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Story [Tolkien] "The Histories Shall Say", DDC 2014, Celebrían's diary, Entry 30 up 1/06!

Discussion in 'Non Star Wars Fan Fiction' started by Mira_Jade , Jan 2, 2014.

  1. Cael-Fenton

    Cael-Fenton Jedi Master star 3

    Jun 22, 2006
    Of all your brilliant Tolkien work, this felt the most Tolkien to me. Your portrayal of Oropher's old wounds rang so true. He was very, very much Thingol's heir in spirit there, and, even if understandable, not in the most admirable way ("A plague on the stiff necks of the Elves!" :p ).

    Your descriptions of Greenwood thrilled me to bits! I love how pithy and succinct and yet very apt the comparisons you drew with Lorien and Fangorn are. I can only dream of such precision!

    Can I also say that your Tree Mother has got to be one of the most awesome fanon creations I have ever come across? And she is also utterly Tolkien. She just fits so well into what I perceive his obsessions with trees and European mythology to be, heh. I suppose she is intentionally modelled on Yggdrasil? In any case, I think he'd love her, so well done, you! I hope she's featured in later instalments, or maybe This Taste of Shadow.
    Nyota's Heart likes this.
  2. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Force Ghost star 6

    Aug 21, 2006
    Nyota's Heart likes this.
  3. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The Fanfic Manager With The Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Jun 29, 2004
    Yikes, but I did not expect it to take so long to get this up - I had this update written before I left, but had no time to edit. :oops:8-} Ah well, here we are now. :p

    RX_Sith: Thank-you. [face_love]

    Nyota's Heart: Thank-you so much! There was a lot going on in that update, and I am glad that everything struck you. As always, I am grateful that you took the time to stop and read. [face_love][:D]

    Cael-Fenton: I have to stop and say that that comment is probably one of the best ones that I have ever received for any story ever, so I thank-you! The Great Tree was indeed modeled after Yggdrasil - I loved Norse Mythology even before delving into Tolkien's work, and the comparison was just too good a one to pass up. [face_love]

    earlybird-obi-wan: Thank-you so very much. :)

    Now, with this update, we are not deviating from canon, per say, rather I am expanding on it - because there are some gaps in years and plot that just cannot be explained otherwise. So! There are notes at the bottom, and in the meantime I hope that you enjoy. As always, I thank you all for reading. [:D]

    Entry XXIII

    After breaking through the trees to see an awesome sight – a single, lonely mountain, standing strong and mighty and untouched – we turned back to the shade of the forest once more. Our return journey south was slow and uneventful. During the days that passed, I enjoyed the opportunity I had to get to know Calelassel better, all the while learning the ways of a forest that was different than my own. She had stories to aplenty to tell, and I listened to those from the War of Wrath especially closely - knowing that history was about to repeat itself with a similar Shadow once again.

    Yet, not all of her stories were dark, and it was with great delight that she told me of the arrival of the army of primarily Vanyarin Elves from Aman, marching alongside the celestial might of Eönwë's host. Ingwë had declined leading the Vanyar back to a land that was nothing but woeful memories for him, and he instead left that task to his nephew - the King of the Noldor left in Aman, Finarfin. That ancient king was my grandfather, my mother's father, whom I would never meet unless I took one of the grey ships West across the sea. With the war's end, the ban on our returning to Valinor also ended, and yet, Finarfin had known of Galadriel's decision to remain in Middle-earth without her having to speak. While great was his sorrow for the years that would continue to part them, he had delighted in his chance to play the 'father' when meeting the husband she had chosen from the Moriquendi. It was, Calelassel said in amusement, one of the only times Celeborn had feared anything during the war – and she had seen him charge dragons and their fire with how the Sindar were positioned on the battle-lines. I listened, my smile only dipping when I reflected that someday my mother's choice would be my father's – for not eternally would these shores succor my mother's spirit, and Celeborn would have to decide between his bond with her and his soul's home underneath the trees of Middle-earth.

    Yet, I pushed that thought aside as she moved onto her next tale – a light ditty about the mix of cultures that came with the mingling of Maiar and Elves and Men, and I listened, delighted as she spun her stories.

    In this vein, our trip appeared to pass uneventfully. Yet, days later, I became aware of a pulsing in my spirit – a sense of wrongness that tingled, and then thrummed through my bones. We were walking through the narrows of the Greenwood, and steep paths leading down to the banks of the Anduin were starting to appear through the trees. Overhead, birds flew from west to east in great flocks, and the forest picked up an echo of alarm – not for any threat underneath the boughs of their own branches, it took me a moment to understand, but rather, beyond the river . . . in their sister-wood.

    Lórinand, I realized just as I felt a flare of determination and anger flare up fiercely from my mother's place in my spirit – before it was swiftly cut off as Galadriel girded herself to face whatever foe marched on the Golden Wood.

    I looked, and saw that Calelassel sensed the same disturbance. “I do believe,” she said in a cool voice, “that Gundabad took insult to your offering aid to the sons of Durin.”

    My stomach turned, sickened with worry. It made sense, I could not help but think as we sped up to run through the trees - Sauron could not divide his forces to march on both the forests and Eregion beyond the mountains. And yet, if he could keep the forests contained with that which he already had in place in the north . . .

    I set my mouth in a grim line at the thought, liking it but little. Our first round of troops had marched to Moria nearly two months ago, and the fresh might of elven swords combined with the uncanny perception of the Dwarves – given through the aid of the Ring, much as I was loath to admit it – had allowed for many victories. Gundabad was being pushed back and back towards their own halls far in the north, and now . . .

    This was not only a way for Sauron to protect the flank of his army when it came, but it was also a last, desperate attempt for Gundabad to turn the tide of the war in their favor. And yet, with so many of our fighting men away in the mountain halls, what was left in Lórien was -

    “ - I have sent ahead,” Calelassel said tersely, cutting into my thoughts. “We will be met by the river, and cross here.” She touched the side of her head – communicating with someone further beyond.

    I furrowed my brow, but did not ask further questions. While we were still far enough from the proper of Amon Lanc, there were many outposts in the forests, and even a dozen Silvan archers would be of use if Lórinand was under attack.

    Sure enough, not even an hour later, we made it to the river's edge to see where a Silvan archer with rich chestnut hair had a boat already ready and waiting for us. I recognized him as Torion – Calelassel's second in command, whom I had first met at the archery tournament along with her - and was able to give a distracted word in greeting. He and two blonde elves helped us in and then pushed off, and I looked behind to see where another boat with a half dozen archers had filled and pushed away from the shore to join us.

    It took the rest of that day and the better part of the next to reach where the Celebrant joined the Anduin, but by then we were joined by another ten boats filled with archers – of which, I hoped there were more to follow. The feeling of wrongness grew the moment we set foot on the shore– for the trees were angry here, furious even. They hissed and snapped and sputtered for the dark feet stomping over their roots, and their discordant song filled me until my fists clenched against the angry rising of voices in my mind.

    The Naith of Lórinand had not been breached – but there was smoke coming from the north of the forest, warning of where the enemy pierced through the trees. The song of the wood was as drumbeats in my ears as I searched for my mother – and found her as a calm spot amongst the ordered chaos and rapid commotion around her.

    “They breached the outer posts three days ago,” Galadriel said in greeting, not looking up from the map before her. “We face a good portion of Gundabad's might – some two hundred score of Orcs, with Warg-riders at the head of every twelve-count. We have moved all to the Naith – both our own kind, and the Men who have been pushed from their lands north of the wood. With the forces we have here, we have been able to keep the threat to our borders - mostly. Even so, troops in small numbers circumvent our guard to slip in through the south and the east, and we have been dealing with them as they come. Most fall at the Deep Fosse – which we can continue to see to so long as our borders hold.”

    “The smoke? It seemed deeper than our borders,” I questioned further. I could feel the trees' pain ripple and brush against my spirit, and when I swallowed, I tasted ash.

    “They are trying to force their way in,” Galadriel said tightly in reply. “They know of our bond with the trees, and they use it to their advantage. We are still moving those who live outside of the Naith from the outer eaves to Caras Galadhon, and they attack those bands first, knowing that our hands are tied with that which we protect.”

    I set my mouth at that, feeling my spirit rise fey and angry within me. It was a feeling shared by most in the room, I could feel about me.

    Galadriel sighed, and rubbed at her eyes. She looked at Amdír. “We will be victorious in the end,” she said in a voice free of infliction or tone. “But the battling will be long, and our losses will be high.”

    Gundabad was fighting with a desperate ferocity, knowing that their time was short. What did Sauron think to gain by this? I set my brow in puzzlement as I tried to think about the broader events occurring – detaching myself as if viewing pieces on a board. Sauron could not save the whole mountain, and yet . . . if he could take those remaining of his servants, and sacrifice their lives to do his enemy a crippling wound . . . taking us completely out of the equation for the war to come, even . . . He would not care about the losses suffered by his own – for Orcs were as tools to him, neither living nor breathing, merely useful, and he would only care about the losses inflicted upon us.

    . . . we would not have time to recover from fighting Gundabad before setting upon Sauron when he marched on Eregion. We -

    “We have lost nearly two-hundred souls already,” Galadriel said next, looking up at us. Her eyes were shadowed with memories of wars even older than this one, where the losses had been much higher still. Yet, when she turned to Calelassel, the memory gone from her eyes. “How many accompany you?”

    “Six dozen,” Calelassel answered. She glanced at Torion. “I wish to say that more follow, and yet, it depends on our lord and his mercy.” She did not say more than that.

    “I will not wait for Oropher, nor will I ask for his aid,” Galadriel set her mouth. “But I thank you for what you bring. I will not use you on the front, but our refugees could use an accurate aim as we move them deeper in the forests. I would be grateful for your assistance in this matter.”

    Calelassel inclined her head, and I stepped forward before Galadriel could turn her attention back to her maps and charts. I knew what I wanted to ask, but I was unsure of how to phrase my words. I knew that I was not meant for the front lines – while my aim was good, my sword-arm was only adequate, and there were only select instances when I would be of use in a melee. And yet, with the refugees we moved in – I knew the forest well, and my skill with the bow was strong. The fighting would be in smaller numbers, easier to contain and control, and I felt confident that I could offer aid underneath those conditions.

    I . . . I did not want to stand still and worry from the windows while others fought and died. I could not sit and do nothing while the trees sang with pain.

    I met Galadriel's eyes, and found them closed and hard – she was trying not to feel, I understood then. It took much for her to look at me with the gaze of a commander, rather than the eyes of a mother. In the end, I did not have to speak. She nodded her head sharply. “Accompany Calelassel,” she said. “You know these woods better than she, and you shall do well there.”

    With that, we turned to leave, wasting no more time on words. As we walked, Erythor - one of Amdír's captains – came to show us a map detailing where they had those waiting to be transferred hidden, and explained the routes they were taking to avoid detection. Most of the Wood-elves had already sought out refuge long before the battle began, and it was mainly Men we had left to move. For the most part, these refugees were farming folk whose homes had burned when Gundabad moved south – many, Erythor explained, had to fight their superstitions of the forest and the faerie-folk therein before accepting the help we wished to give, which had led to interesting situations aplenty. I nodded, listening as we left the council-room with purpose in our strides.

    I looked behind only once, and saw where Amdír leaned in close to my mother to speak in low, hurried tones – they no doubt discussing the darker outcomes that could come if the battle turned for ill. Their voices were low so as not to be heard by those they led, but there was a fierce look worn on each of their faces. Galadriel bowed her head, and I saw where Amdír made fists of his hands when she touched the Ring she wore about her neck. In the half-light, Nenya blazed like a small star, and for a moment, I feared . . .

    But I had no time to worry for my mother's plans and the Ring, not with my own fight to come weighing heavily upon my mind.

    Instead of leaving Caras Galadhon through the bridge over the Deep Fosse – the only way in and out of the city but for those paths secret - we used a little used exit to the north, and then continued on to the edge of the forest. Here, the taste of violence was sour in my mouth, and we could hear the ringing cadence of war cries and steel crossing steel from just beyond.

    “Here,” Erythor waved us on, and we climbed up to a hidden Talan where there were two families huddled together in the shade of the great branches. These folk were mortal, I espied, all clad in simple farmer's garb. The men were strongly built, with beards covering their chins, and eyes that were both hard and afraid all at once – for their callouses and scars were from working the land, not from wielding arms, and yet the instinct to protect their own was still strong within them. The woman were just as strongly built as the men, with faces ranging from plain to pretty to my eyes – but each one of them showed determination over their fear.

    I frowned to see that one of the mothers held an infant babe in her arms, rocking her swaddled daughter so that she slept no matter the battle waging just beyond. The child was quiet for now, but I knew a flicker of worry for the trek to come – where silence could mean the difference between life and death if found by the enemy. I counted, and frowned when I realized that this mother was there with no husband, and that realization hurt when even I could read the youth on her face. Her eyes were wide and her cheeks were crossed by dried tracks of tears, but her grip on her child was strong and protective. Upon seeing her, I felt my purpose settle anew within me.

    There were five more children in the group. I was no great judge of human years – really, this was my first time meeting a Man outside of mere passing – but the youngest two girls were small and fine-boned, even though they were technically old enough to walk and hold their own on the trails. There were two gangly boys, older than the girls, with large hazel eyes and round, freckled faces. And then there was one last boy, almost to the age of manhood, who held a scythe in his hands - the farming tool made a weapon in his desperation. He stared openly at Calelassel and me – a gaze which was only surpassed by the gazes of the youngest two girls. Their brown eyes were luminous with their curiosity and wonder - which was greater than their fear in that moment.

    I stared in return, taken aback by just how bright they initially were against my senses. Elven souls were almost like stars when I closed my eyes – viewing their eternal burn from a horizon away. The mortal souls before me were like a fire sparking at night, giving both heat and light. I turned the sensation over in my mind, intrigued by the swift burn of their years, no matter their ephemeral shape.

    “We have prepared a path,” Erythor said to the eldest of the men when he stepped forward – the leader of the small group, I understood. And with that, the Men prepared to leave with a hurried and silent efficiency. There were eleven of them total - eleven to move silently through the forest, I thought with a whisper of foreboding. And yet, it would not be practical to break the group up. We would simply have to do what was needed against our foes along the way.

    Calelassel stepped up to the young mother, and helped her fashion a sling from her apron - so that she would not have to worry about carrying her babe while she climbed. I saw the way her pale brow knit, and knew that she would have preferred to carry the little one for the mother - but no one would dare suggest it with the way the human woman found it difficult to even allow another close in order to settle her daughter in securely against her body. It was a possessive need that I could not even imagine myself having to suffer through, and so, we let her be.

    The little girls were technically old enough to climb – but just barely. The way down was long, and a fall could prove fatal to their young bones. So, without speaking, Torion knelt and gave a courtly bow to one of the girls – the one who had been staring at his hair without blinking - before asking the child if he could help her to the ground. The girl nodded slowly, allowing her wonder to be greater than her fear as Torion settled her on his back and started down after the older boys – who had no qualms about climbing down when Erythor gestured for them to do so.

    The remaining girl looked from Erythor to me, and I understood her hesitant glance. Darting a look at Erythor, and seeing his nod of assent, I came and knelt before her while Erythor stepped back to help the others start their climb – we having little time to waste in hesitation.

    “May I help you down?” I asked the girl, watching as her eyes flickered over me - taking in my silver hair and the fey tips of my ears - before glancing to the forest floor, far below us. She kept her gaze to that small circle, as if by doing so she could ignore the battle beyond - the sounds of which were growing ever louder through the trees.

    “I am not scared,” she said after a moment, her round cheeks flushing pink. “It is only that . . . well, we are very high up.”

    “We are up very high, it is true,” I agreed with her. “And yet, I sense a brave heart before me. What is your name, young one?”

    “Aelil,” she answered after a moment, “daughter of Balrant.”

    “Greetings, Aelil Balrant's daughter,” I inclined my head. “I am Celebrían Celeborniel, and I pray that the stars shine upon the hour of our meeting.” I allowed only a moment to pass, and then two, conscious of the scent of smoke building on the air. The strong branches we perched in tensed as if in warning.

    “Every creature knows fear,” I said after a moment. “It is a natural emotion to feel, even when it also belongs to each of us to take that fear, and rise above it. And yet, the trees succor us in this particular forest. She will not let you fall.”

    “She?” Aelil asked, narrowing her eyes in puzzlement.

    “Yes, this tree is,” I answered, the barest of smiles touching my mouth. “She is curious for you – for she does not often have children walk beneath her boughs, and you are a wonder to her ancient days. She says that you feel bright to her – like the sun on her highest branches. She calls you a seedling.”

    “A seedling?” Aelil repeated, baffled. “But . . . trees do not talk. They have no mouths.”

    “They speak not with voices, and yet, you can understand words from their song if you listen,” I countered. I was not sure how much her human senses could make out, but she was a child of Eru the same as I was. The principles behind our minds had to be the same, no matter their differing shapes. I reached out with that sense of belonging I ever felt with the trees, and concentrated on the strains of song that were greater than their anger for the battle and the pain of their burning boughs. I searched for the notes that were the trees wrapping their branches around the forest-folk as a shield . . . the notes that were all sun-warmed leaves and soil-cooled roots, and I pushed . . .

    I was not sure what she was able to feel, but she looked at me with her mouth open, her head tilted curiously. “The tree is singing,” Aelil exclaimed, her voice breaking on a note of delight. “They are all singing.”

    “And they ever will,” I smiled, warmth filling me for the simple wonder on her face. Then I heard Erythor whistle from below – we had delayed long enough. “Now, how about you listen while I climb? And you may tell me that which you hear?”

    Aelil nodded, and carefully climbed on my back so that I could make the descent unencumbered by her small limbs. Her arms were tight around her neck, but her fear was no longer palpable as she looked on the forest anew, her eyes wide as she took in the towering trees and their golden branches. The forest hummed for her, aware of her straining to hear, and their song was as soothing for me as it was for her.

    We reached the forest floor without incident, and immediately started walking on the deer-path that cut through the wood. I looked back, and saw that Aelil walked on the side of her mother closest to me. I flashed her a small smile, even as I kept my senses open and alert to the forest around me. Once, the girl tried to explain what she heard to her mother and sister, but she was quickly hushed for the silence we needed for our trek to Caras Galadhon. The way was not safe, and the once familiar trees and forest shadows now seemed to hold sinister shapes around every turn.

    After an hour of walking on the twining path, the sounds of the battle were far off - but the resulting quiet of the forest was even more unnatural than the sounds of the melee. Not one bird sang in the high boughs; squirrels did not dart from branch to branch, and the underbrush was absent the rustling of small creatures. As a result, every twig breaking underfoot echoed horribly in the ghostly silence that remained. While we walked with silent steps, the Men trod heavily over the unfamiliar ways, and where the path turned steep and difficult to cross, their exhaustion became apparent through the scraping sound of their boots and the huffing of their breath. No one spoke, and yet, it was as if the very air was holding its breath, waiting . . .

    On our trip to the talan from Caras Galadhon, we had left Calelassel's archers at various checkpoints on the path. Now we whistled to mimic birdsong in between every checkpoint to ascertain that the way was clear. So far, we were had yet to encounter any trouble, and each of the archers we passed filed in to join us, while others would break away to scout the woods nearest to our party. The children watched the elves come and go with wide eyes, while the men watched with hard expressions, no doubt finding it hard to trust the lives of their families to strangers.

    All was well until we made it to the last two checkpoints on our route. The Silvan archer ahead of us did not return our whistle, and Erythor waved two of his men on to see what was ahead while we stood still – gathering the Men close together, and standing with our backs to the small group so as to best protect them should it come to that.

    My heart was hammering in my chest as I took in the forest around me. Here the flat land of Lórinand turned hilly once more before the mound of Caras Galadhon. We were on the crest of one hill, with a steep, treacherous way behind us where the cleft between the two hills created a ravine, narrow and deep. Many of the older trees had fallen into the ravine from the natural violence of the spring storms, and I could hear water running in a creek on the floor of the cleft.

    Yet, the felled trees and upturned roots gave us more than enough cover to hide behind. The Orcs who made it this far would not be sure what they were looking for in the unfamiliar terrain, and if we met a party without a Warg making out our scent, it was possible that we could remain hidden – which would be preferable, instead of defending such a large group.

    Erythor gestured, and we all found a place to hide ourselves in the mossy wood. Our cloaks were grey and concealing to prying eyes, and as best we could, we huddled close to the Men to keep them from view, as well. Silent, we all tensed, waiting . . .

    We heard footsteps, and through a gap in the rotting roots, I could see armored feet as they slapped against the forest floor. Voices snarled in the Black Tongue, and that horrible language scraped at my ears and pelted against my spirit in a discomfort as unsettling as any physical wound. Close to my cloak, Aelil winced, even as she forced herself to keep her eyes open lest she was needed to run. I placed a comforting hand on the child's back, silently impressed by her fortitude.

    Upon hearing a muffled sound, I looked, and saw where Calelassel was huddling close to the young mother. The woman held her child close to her chest, trying her best to sooth the babe - whose young soul instinctively felt the foul tremor on the air, and liked it not. I looked in alarm, noticing the way the tiny face scrunched, and the infant's large eyes turned wet with tears . . .

    The child would give us away, I thought calmly, shifting so that I would better be able to reach my weapons when our place was discovered. And yet, it did not matter – for I heard the unmistakable growl that went before a Warg howl as it came down the path behind the Orcs. Our place would not be hidden for long, no matter the babe's silence.

    I was not the only one to think so. I looked across the way, and saw where Erythor and a handful of Calelassel's archers hid some distance from us in case they were first needed, and they left their hiding places before they were discovered, using their moment of surprise to deal the enemy a severe first blow. Then, the battle began in earnest.

    Aelil made a sound when an Orc fell with a sickening sound close to our hiding place. I pushed a feeling of peace – one that I myself needed - to the child, even as her mother covered her mouth with her hand. I narrowed my eyes as I peered at the battle beyond, trying to think. Around us, the trees were angry and hurt, and their rage prickled at my soul, making it hard for me to process my thoughts.

    Think, I forced myself. It was not bows and swords that would allow us to escape, it was -

    I shifted, feeling the loose soil from the crest of the hill give way underneath my boots. I glanced down, taking in the floor of the ravine and the arrangement of fallen trees further down the slope from us. The way we had taken from Caras Galadhon started with a secret tunnel that came out in the wall of the Deep Fosse, where we followed the great roots down and out to where they anchored themselves in the soft walls of the ravine. The bridge we used there was crafted to resemble a fallen tree, as well – easy to destroy and push into the Fosse if the Naith ever came under attack. This ravine would eventually meet that greater cleft, and now -

    Mindful of the arrows singing in the melee just beyond, I left my cloak with Aelil and her mother before carefully making my way down into the ravine. I peered closely at the fallen trees and the shallow creek bed. My boots sank deeply in the soaked sentiment underneath the water, but it was not impassible. I looked at the trees next, trying to find a path and hesitantly coming up with a solution in my mind. The children would be able to make such a crossing, I espied from the gaps between the fallen trees, but . . .

    A grown man would too, I finally decided. It was better than the alternative, at any rate.

    I whistled, and looked up to see that Calelassel had noticed me. She caught a moment of Erythor's attention with a brush of her mind, and I felt the push of the Captain's fëa in reply, waving us both on. He and his men would stay with Calelassel's archers, holding the brunt of the Orcs, while Calelassel and Torion both moved to help the humans down into the ravine below.

    Quietly, trying not to garner the notice of the Orcs beyond, the Men carefully slid from their hiding places and made their way down to where I was waiting. The way was steep – treacherous, even for an elf, with the damp soil and the slick branches that served as footrests and handholds. The humans were slow going as we went – mothers helped their children, and husbands gave their hands to aid their wives. I helped where I could, while Calelassel and Torion stood at careful guard behind us, painfully alert for any sign that we had been followed.

    “Did the trees tell you this too?” Aelil asked as I helped her over a branch.

    “My eyes did,” I answered, delighted by the smile she gave – even in the face of such a situation. But the hearts of men, it seemed, were not so easily cowed. I looked, and saw only determination on the faces around me.

    We made it down to the creek, where the water would help distort our scents for a time, and we climbed over fallen beams and crawled underneath massive roots and felled branches. The young mother's baby had quieted, and I felt pity and admiration for her – for the way was difficult, and she struggled to keep her little one shielded from the sharp branches and muddy water. She slipped and struggled aplenty, but she grimly pushed on - the light in her eyes fierce to behold.

    Some of the logs were impassible, and we had to move them by force – our elven strength aided by the burly farmers, who were used to hard tasks such as these. The men were glad for an opportunity to prove useful, and we never found an obstacle that proved to be impassible. Together, our progress was slow, but we finally made it to the walls of the Deep Fosse - where our bridge laid.

    Here, we were in hearing distance of the main crossing over the Fosse, and my blood chilled to realized that I could hear Orc battle-cries snarled in the Black Tongue. Many had reached the Naith, I realized, my blood running cold. There was a fierce battle being waged there, and even if we could push Gundabad back, our losses would be many . . . many indeed.

    And yet, I could not think about that when we had our own way to finish.

    The humans' eyes had fallen when they saw the deep way they had to cross – the bottom hardly visible from such a height, but I touched the shoulder of the leading man, and said, “Though it looks natural, that is ours,” as I pointed to one of the fallen trees that decorated the ravine. “We can cross, and enter Caras Galadhon from there.”

    Quietly, aware that we would be out in the open as we crossed, Torion went across with the younger boys, and then the mothers and girls. I kept on waiting for a black arrow to pierce the silence . . . for a snarled tongue to announce our location . . . Then, as if summoned by my restless mind, we heard the hiss of a foul breath as a bowstring was pulled, and -

    Calelassel aimed and fired at the Orc before he could complete his draw, silencing him before he could give our location away. And yet, even with his voice gone, the sound of his body crashing down through the Fosse drew attention we would rather do without, and suddenly, the sound of an Orc-squadron crashing through the trees was overbearing in the still forest.

    “Keep going!” Calelassel ordered Torion. “We will cover you.”

    And yet, no matter how many arrows we fired, more arrows seemed to come our way. We aimed carefully, first picking out the archers with the longer bows – who would be aiming at the humans as they crossed the hidden bridge with their greater range. I lost count of how many arrows I loosed, until I became aware that I only had three arrows left in my quiver.

    Calelassel saw my glance, and she nodded her head sharply to the left without my having to say a word. I looked upon her back, and saw where she had switched to a quiver of stolen Orc arrows, their jagged tips wickedly sharp in the forest light. “Trade with Torion when he comes back,” she ordered tersely, and I did not pause to second guess her decision – she having seen more of true war in her days than I ever wished to see in my lifetime.

    I conserved the three I had left, ducking behind the trunk of a tree, and trying to control my breathing as I saw Torion return. There was only the young man and the oldest left, and I nodded to them to say it was time to go as Torion took my position by the tree.

    I nocked one arrow as we started to cross, careful of the slippery wood and the long fall that awaited a mishap. The young man first made his way across, and as his father followed I stood to cover them both. Carefully, I watched the Orcs for any sign that they were trying to aim our way, when -

    I felt another weight join us on the bridge, and I blinked in surprise when I realized that four of the Orcs had used the distraction of the battle to climb down the steep walls of the ravine, over to the underside of the bridge, where they then used handholds on the branches and roots to pull themselves up onto the bridge. I felt my heart thunder as they made our way towards us, snarling words in their own tongue.

    I looked behind me, but there were only the human farmers and the path that would lead the Orcs into the heart of the forest. Calelassel and Torion had their hands tied, and no help would come from them – at least, not in time. I had three arrows left; not enough for my four opponents – but even if I did, I would not be able to draw fast enough to fell one and then another when they were so close. Distantly, I wondered about dropping the bridge when we crossed, but that would leave Calelassel and Torion stranded – along with Erythor and his men further beyond. If it meant the difference between Orcs entering Caras Galadhon and not, I knew the choice I would make, and yet . . .

    . . . I could not. Not yet.

    In the bare seconds while those thoughts passed, the man I was leading made a decision of his own - rushing forward with an inarticulate cry of rage to tackle the Orc closest to us. He had surprise on his side, and he grappled with that first Orc without giving an inch. While not a warrior, he was strong from his years of hard labor, and he fought with the added strength of a man who knew that he had his family to protect. He knocked the Orc's dagger aside, and succeeded in wrestling him off the bridge – the surprise of which allowed me to quickly load my bow and fire at the next Orc who charged the man in rage for his comrade's death. My shot was a fatal blow, and yet, my worrying about how we would deal with the next two Orcs was pushed aside when something unexpected happened . . . Something that, at first, I could not explain . . .

    A massive thrum of power filled the air, nearly knocking us all from our places. A wave of golden light swept through the trees with an audible twang as it pierced every living thing it passed with its power and radiance. I could feel it rattle in my bones and echo behind my heart as it swept through the trees and traveled all the way down into the roots of the land. Such a light filled the air, for a moment blinding us as it rose to encompass everything it touched . . .

    . . . and yet, it was not just the light that rose in power.

    The light pulsed, but the Shadow answered, rising from its natural places on the earth to confront that golden power. The Shadow took a shape in my mind – each of our minds – I could sense, and I knew . . . I knew that Sauron was conscious of a Ring of Power being donned. No matter how much the lesser Ring pushed, he was still their Lord, and he was amused for this minute display of might when compared to what was his to wield absolutely. His will was teasing as he pushed at all of our minds like a child playing with a toy, and no matter how much the light of Nenya fought, it was still lesser when compared to the One.

    And yet, Sauron would have to invest more of his power than he was yet willing to give in order to fight from across such a distance – and he already intended for his Gundabad servants to serve as sacrificial pawns in his game. And so, after one more smothering blow of his presence, he let the Shadow go. He laughed – a warm and rich sound that we could all feel, more so than hear - and the forest shimmered with his promise.

    Soon, he whispered across the distance, but not yet.

    And, just as abruptly as it begun, the war that tugging on my bones settled. It was done. The light swelled, filling the forest anew, before collapsing in on itself – filling the trees and water and soil as a thing unspoken and untouchable, until, finally, we were at last able to breathe again.

    Yet, where the light was akin to us, it was torture to the unnatural ilk of the Orcs and their fellow creatures. As a result, we did not even need arrows to dispose of our remaining foes. Instead, we reached out and simply pushed them from the bridge as they reeled from the touch of the light. Calelassel and Torion made quick work of the rest of our foes – who were unable to put up much of a fight with the light still pulsing great and indomitable around them.

    And then, it was done.

    We all paused on the other side of the bridge, and each of us fought to catch our breath. Calelassel looked at me, and her eyes were wide with both wonder and concern.

    “Was . . .” she started to question, but she could not complete her thought.

    “My mother has donned Nenya,” I answered the unspoken, but I could find no rejoicing in our victory, knowing only the great price that had – and would continue – to be paid.

    My voice was hollow, but after, I could say no more. When we were at last joined by Erythor and his surviving men, I could only grimly set my mouth as we moved to lead the mortals further into Caras Galadhon. I then focused on the path before me, and tried to keep my mind to that and only that.

    End Notes

    Gundabad: While it is canon that they grew in strength midway through the Second Age, and the Dwarves of Moria eventually cleared them from the north mountains by the end of the Second Age, nothing else is mentioned in the timeline. Which was curious to me, for I thought it remiss on Sauron's part not to use such a closely placed weapon in his battles against Eregion. If Tolkien ever fleshed this story out fully, I have to imagine that he would use Gundabad in some way, even if not the way I did here. Mainly, I needed their encounter with Lórinand to lead into . . .

    Galadriel's Use of Nenya: Canon contradicts itself mightily on this. In some places it is said that the Elven Rings were not used until Sauron was defeated and the One Ring lost – which would make sense, for the Three are not stronger than the One, no matter their being technically free from Sauron's taint. And yet, in the UT - where I am taking the majority of this tale from - Tolkien specifically mentioned that Galadriel used Nenya to beautify and enrich the forests to resemble the glory of Valinor across the sea. Doing so wearied her, and intensified her Sea-longing, which was in place much earlier than the Third Age, I have to imagine – so her having to use Nenya here is my middle ground with the two, as is Sauron not precisely yielding to her, but keeping her as a fight to wage at another time. Those are my thoughts, not Tolkien's, to keep that straight. :p

    Torion: I only have a small geek-note to add for him, but as we will be seeing more from him in this story and others, so I figured that I would mention it here. Eventually, I would like to write about Tauriel too – for while I did not like her handling in DOS (Xena-esque center of a love-triangle with more screen-time than Bilbo, it seemed. Heck, even the actress who played her was upset by the love triangle angle - for it was added later in filming - which I cannot blame her for :(). Even so, I did like the idea/potential of her character, and for that, I would like to dabble with her later. That said, we know that she was orphaned at a young age, upon which Thranduil took her in, so I have to imagine that her parents were close with Calelassel/Thranduil before that. Thus we have Torion to fill in that hole.

    (As a side note to my side note, I refuse to write him with red hair out of principle – for I like thinking that only the House of Mahtan had red hair - since Tolkien specifically said that red hair was a trait of Nerdanel's kin. Hair colour is a telling trait for elves, and while I guess you can argue that Tolkien did not make this an absolute rule, it is a popular piece of fan-lore and a part of my personal canon, and thus - 'chestnut' hair it is. ;) Hey, maybe Mahtan had family on the Great Journey who broke off in the Greenwood, you never know – but that is the only way Tauriel would be a red-head in my world. :p)

    Tauriel's name means 'daughter of the forest', so I wanted to translate a name that meant 'son of the forest' for her father . . . and, interestingly enough, my name website said that 'Taur' should be turned to 'Tor' when a suffix was added . . . which obviously wasn't done in her case. I tried to puzzle over which name was right and which one was wrong, before deciding that I was going a bit nutty to overly contemplate grammar for a fictional language when naming a fictional OC who is only a side-point in my work at this point. [face_laugh]:oops: So . . . Tor it is. :p But, more about him later!

    ~MJ @};-
    RX_Sith likes this.
  4. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Force Ghost star 6

    Aug 21, 2006
    A wonderful journey. And the use of Nenya for the first time. A great write expanding on the Tolkien books.
    Nyota's Heart likes this.
  5. RX_Sith

    RX_Sith C&G Game Host star 5 VIP - Game Host

    Mar 13, 2006
    Beautiful description on the use of Nenya and its far-reaching effects.
    Nyota's Heart likes this.
  6. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 7

    Aug 31, 2004
    Of course, that was (as I knew it would be) brilliant, stunning and riveting. =D= =D= Forced by the situation to a final choice, which indeed did prove crucial for a victory - but still Celebrian is right, there will be a price. @};-


  7. Cael-Fenton

    Cael-Fenton Jedi Master star 3

    Jun 22, 2006
    You described the battle very well and you created great build-up to it with the relatively lighthearted opening to the chapter. You obviously have a very clear idea of the topography of the Elven wood realms! I also liked the level of personality you gave to the human refugees. And that was a suitably foreboding account of Galadriel's first use of Nenya. :)
    Nyota's Heart likes this.
  8. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The Fanfic Manager With The Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Jun 29, 2004
    earlybird-obi-wan: Thanks so much! :)

    RX_Sith: Thank-you muchly. :)

    Nyota's Heart: That's pretty much the best way to put it. [face_worried] As always, I thank-you so much for your support and readership. You really are the best! [:D]

    Cael-Fenton: Thank-you very much! I have a fierce love for anything outdoors, really, so it was a lot of fun to play with the landscape in these chapters - and the new characters. I am glad that you enjoyed this update. :)

    This update was supposed to be done in two parts, but when I finished writing, each part felt a little flat to me. So, I decided to group them together for a longer update. We are finally at - and through - the War of Saruon and the Elves with this one. Since Celebrían would have had a back-seat to the actual fighting, most of this is merely surmised in this chapter - as I did not want the war to drag on, but we will definitely touch on the aftermath more in the chapters to come. :)

    As always, I thank you all for reading, and I hope that you enjoy! [:D]

    Entry XXIV

    By the time the remaining refugees were settled in the heart of the forest, the dawn of the following day was upon us.

    I had not slept that night, yet I was not tired – how could I be, when around me the forest sang with life and such golden light? The high boughs were swaying and the deep roots were dancing as they joined their voice to Nenya, yet, the beauty of their symphony was one I could not fully allow myself to enjoy. I listened to their song, and only pursed my lips in reply, as if I heard discord rather than a song.

    By the time I cleaned up from the battling and dressed anew for the day, the sky was streaked with pale washes of purple and pink. The rising light seeped down through the trees to bath the forest in its glow - as if the dawn itself was rejoicing at Nenya's side. When I found my mother standing on the balcony of her talan, the same as when I had left her the day before, the light shining through the curving architecture cast winding shadows over her face. The play of light and dark danced over her skin, yet my eyes were instead drawn down . . . down to Galadriel's hand, where such a light shone . . . a light greater than anything that could be produced by sun or star or flame. The iridescent rays were white and gold, moving more like water than light as they rippled in glorious waves and patterns. Nenya was beautiful, it was true – but that beauty was that of a storm or wave or waterfall; something to be appreciated from afar, but never touched, never approached.

    And now my mother wore Nenya upon her hand, and allowed the Ring to draw its strength from her own spirit. They were knit together, my mother and this Ring, knit together as Sauron's craft had intended, and I could not push aside the whisper of foreboding that rose within me, fit enough to smother.

    She knew of my presence, yet she did not turn to me as I approached. Instead, when I took my place beside her, she said: “Gundabad retreats, and our men give chase. Many of our foes fell underneath the light of the Ring; enough to ensure our victory as swift and absolute. Durin roused his folk in Moria, and he marches on the northern halls even as we speak. Our bargain is fulfilled, and now our warriors on both sides may rest until we have need of them again.”

    I swallowed, and found my voice. “That is good to hear,” I said. Those words, at least, I meant truly.

    A moment passed, long in shape. I looked, but Galadriel still did not turn my way. When the sky started to take on shades of orange alongside the purple and the pink, she said to me in a whisper: “I have told you many times of Aman as I left it, have I not?”

    “Yes,” I whispered, looking out as she did to see the forests golden and rippling with new life. I tried to see what she saw, but the vision was lacking to my eyes.

    “It is nothing built by two hands that my heart yearns for in the home I left behind,” Galadriel continued. “It is more than that . . . it is the white glory of Alqualondë's sands, its pink stone and the pearl and sapphire of the sea . . . The great trees of Yavanna's forest, the youngest sapling there more awe inspiring than even the Great Mother in the Greenwood . . . The Holy Mountain, bathed in Tree-light, all gold and silver for the hour of Mingling Lights . . . I find that these are the wonders that I long for. And yet, my heart still has not turned towards the Sea. I love this land and my place in it, and if I could but touch the scar of its days in order to grant it a similar wonder . . . a similar glory,” her words tapered off, and her eyes upon the forest were nearly greedy then – hungry and fey.

    “And yet,” I said softly, “Some wounds are not for us to heal. Some things only the One may turn new again. Until then, it is to us to find beauty in the world we have, and embrace the shape that is given to us.”

    “And if those with duties to others find a way to lessen the hardships of those they serve?” Galadriel returned, choosing her words carefully. “Should they not accept that burden, no matter its shape?

    “Not with a weapon crafted by the Enemy's arts,” my voice turn hard as I spoke. I made fists of my hands about the railing of the balcony. “No, I do not find this to be a viable path to walk.”

    Finally, Galadriel turned to me. Her eyes were very bright in the growing morn. Too bright, I thought, seeing more than the remembered glow of the Trees' that normally dwelt there. I felt my pulse speed up, centuries of deference and respect demanding that I cast my gaze down - but I did not. I met her eyes, and held her look.

    “What would you have done in my place, then? Would you have had the losses we suffered this day doubled? Tripled, even? And all this before Sauron took the first step of his march?” Galadriel paused for a moment, her gaze unblinking upon me. Her expression was completely serene, completely still, yet I could feel a rising awareness from her spirit as it rose and rippled against my own. “Would you have added your own life to that number?” her voice was a low, dangerous sound as she said so. It took me a moment to realize that such a feeling was not directed towards me, but rather, against an enemy now dead and fallen. “You ask me to make a choice that I could not have made any other way.”

    I paused for a moment before replying . . . I hesitated. I felt as if I was at a fork in the path, with either road leading off to a deep and dangerous way. “Then,” I said slowly, “take Nenya off now. The Ring is as a beacon in the dark, and Sauron can feel you through it. That is not the attention Lórinand needs.”

    Galadriel looked down at the Ring, and I could feel a pulse of something fey in her spirit – something pleased and satisfied. Yet, her face remained neutral; her voice remained cool. “Yes, I am as a beacon to Sauron,” she agreed. “Should he ever turn his attention upon Nenya in full, his will shall dominate. Yet, until then, I shall remain as a reminder – a silent vow. Now so easily shall this world bow to the Shadow, no matter the arts he throws against us. The light of Middle-earth is one not so easily blown out, and I would have him remember this.”

    “Yet, I have to ask,” for the first, a note of feeling entered my voice. I tried to cool my words so that they did not come out touched with fear or frustration. I stood up tall against the growing weight of her spirit as it pulsed against my own – normally soothing and mentoring, but now irked for my daring to stand opposite of it. “Is it Galadriel who speaks so, or is it Artanis? Is it your duty, or is it your want that has you don this Ring?”

    For a long moment, Galadriel was silent. Her eyes narrowed about the edges in the only outward sign of her anger. “You forget yourself, child,” she counseled, and her voice was cold in comparison to the golden light that then turned smothering from Nenya upon her finger.

    “I only wish to make sure that you do not,” I returned. I inclined my head respectfully, even where I would not take my words back. “If my saying so is wrong, then I am glad. Yet, if there is even a glimmer of truth to them, then few are those who would dare say so. They are words I could not leave unspoken.”

    Galadriel paused, and I felt Nenya's power drew back. As the silence stretched, all I could feel was my mother's natural light, and the beauty of the approaching dawn. “Nenya is my duty,” she replied at long last, returning her gaze to the forest. “Nothing more.”

    I was not satisfied . . . not completely – but I had spoke my mind, and now it was to my mother to steer her course as she would. I nodded, mute in reply to her words, and turned to take my leave – suddenly weary from the events of the last few days. The battle-haze and adrenaline had failed me, and I now longed for rest.

    I said no farewell, but Galadriel turned as I did. “Celebrían,” she called, stopping me. “As your mother, I am proud of your actions this last day. I . . . I want you to know that your concerns are not merely your own. They plague me as well, and often are they at the forefront of my mind. Please, remember that, and take what comfort you may.”

    I took in a deep breath, and nodded at her words. I forced the smallest of smiles to my face, and Galadriel inclined her head in reply. This time, when I left, my thoughts were still heavy, but my step was lighter.

    Although my body was weary, my mind was still racing, unable to allow me to rest. I instead walked through the bases of the great trees – where the refugees, both of Elves and Men, had set up camp until they could return their own ways. Many had lost much with Gundabad's march, and those remaining now worked out an awkward rhythm amongst themselves as they readied to build their lives again. Smiles were hesitant, and eyes were weary when I passed, but many talked hesitantly of the future to come. Some knew joy for their loved ones who survived, and others grieved and were comforted by others for their losses. It was a heavy storm of many different emotions I passed through, and I let their troubles and triumphs tug at me until I forgot about my own.

    When I passed the first group of Men we had helped, Aelil was quick to run out from the tent her family was erecting between two of the great trees. I regarded the child with a smile – a true smile - and was pleased to see that her wide eyed wonder for the forest had yet to fade. If anything, it had only intensified. I looked up, and tried to imagine the glory of Lórinand as seen through her mortal eyes. Around me, the trees were staggering in beauty, draped in golden light and silver shadow as the morning sun fully rose above the forest. With a flicker of premonition, I knew that the leaves would now remain ever-gold, no matter the season, due to the might and wonder of Nenya.

    “I grew up on a farm,” Aelil's voice cut through my thoughts. She still craned her head back to look up at the trees. “We had small thickets of trees that grew around the fields, but nothing like this . . . Magic was said to lie in the forests, and not all tales of the fair folk were good ones. My gran says that your kind are magic, and I . . . I can believe that here.”

    “I have very little skill with what you would call magic,” I answered, bemused. A flicker of memory came over me – of sitting by my mother's mirror for hours on end and trying to summon even the simplest of images from the water. I had dearly wanted to follow in Galadriel's footsteps, and knew many bitter hours in my youth for having inherited little of her skills. My father had once found me fighting back tears before the mirror, and whispered about each knowing their talents in different shapes - assuring me that my mother's love for me would be no less for my course running different from her own. There were times when I still called on that memory for the truth of his words.

    “And yet, you talk to the trees,” the little girl pursed her mouth, ignorant to my thoughts. “That seems like magic to me.”

    I leaned in close to the child, as if preparing to tell a secret. “And yet, you too heard them speak, did you not?”

    She was silent for a moment, processing what I said. “Yes . . .” she finally answered, awe apparent in her voice. “Yes I did.”

    “Can you still hear them?” I asked.

    Aelil furrowed her brow. She frowned. “Faintly,” she answered. “Their song is different now. It is as if something else is now singing with them.”

    “That . . .” I made to reply after a moment. My throat felt dry to my use, “That is magic that you hear. It is a thing very different from the natural power of the land.”

    She nodded, considering my words. “Is that what has you sad?” she asked a moment later.

    “I am not sad,” my voice was soft as I said so.

    “The trees say you are. They miss your smiles,” Aelil said matter of factly. I blinked, surprised by her insight.

    “I shall try to smile then,” I said, and my words were enough for Aelil – they assured her. When her mother called her back, Aelil did so with a smile and a skip in her step, even in the face of the events that had pushed her family to the forests. I watched her leave, and felt a true smile touch my mouth.

    “It seems that you have created an Elf-friend for the days to come,” I heard a voice speak wryly from behind me. I turned to see Calelassel approaching me, her eyes bright for what she had seen. “The young one will be a wise-woman when she grows.”

    “I find the youth of Men to be . . . refreshing,” I said truly, finding my spirit lightening even further with my words.

    “Such it often is with the fire of mortality,” Calelassel agreed. “And yet, it is a flame that burns in more way than one.”

    I inclined my head in answer to her words, already knowing well the pain of mortality's final bite. I looked, and saw that Calelassel already wore her cloak. About her shoulders, she had slung both her quiver and her pack. She and her men made to return to the Greenwood, then – no doubt to report to Oropher, and hear his words in return. Hers was a task I did not envy.

    As if she heard my thoughts, her look turned resigned as she glanced up at the golden trees. “I do not recognize the song they sing,” she said after a moment. “For centuries their song has little changed, but now it has altered. In a way, it has strengthened. In others . . . I have not the words for it.”

    “It is Nenya's song you hear,” I whispered after a moment. “It is Nenya's might we all feel.”

    Calelassel was silent in reply. “Lady Galadriel will continue to wear the Ring?”

    I could not speak. I nodded.

    She inclined her head. “I wish the best for her, then. Great will be Nenya's price, and yet, if any could pay it and remain themselves, it would be the Golden Lady. This I truly believe.”

    I appreciated her words, and yet . . . “If such a power was available to the Greenwood . . .” I asked slowly, suddenly curious for her reply, “Would you take it?”

    Calelassel paused before answering me. She considered her reply. “Better would I see our trees defended by our own strength, whether we rise or fall as a result. I would linger with our forests, no matter the shape the Shadow took, and endure alongside them in kind.”

    I exhaled at her reply, but had no more to say on the matter. This was an argument that would ever run in circles, and I had no more want for their speaking. Instead I bid her farewell, and thanked her for the aid of her and hers. I was sad to see her go, but I knew that it would only be a matter of time before we would meet again.

    Surly enough, not long after, in the year 1695 of the Second Age, Sauron set his forces to march from Mordor.

    Our scouts could see his army from the south of the forests as they made their way across the Gardens of the Entwives, and turned that green and fertile land brown and desolate with ruin. Sauron had a quarter of a million armed beasts from Mordor – Orcs and Wargs and other unsavory creatures - and behind him marched the best of both Rhûn and Harad – tens of thousands more men than even our first estimations had predicted. We were helpless to touch him as he burned his way across the land, watching as the smoke rose to the sky as if to tickle the nose of Eru Ilúvatar himself. The land wept from the foul touch of Sauron's spirit – unveiled in all of its dark glory as he had not been since the First Age, when he walked in might alongside his master's shadow.

    Sauron crossed the Gap of Isen at midsummer, and he then made his way north into Eregion by the time the harvest came – where his host confronted Ost-in-edhil directly. He had no need of subtlety, not with such a force at his command. Such a force . . . and such a power in the One Ring.

    As we gathered our own men to attack the rear of Sauron's army – which was even now battering Ost-in-edhil's gates - I saw but little of the main fighting from the mountain ways. From what I could see, the sheer mass of war and destruction was overwhelming – a sea of armored plates and glittering steel as far as the eye could see. I even caught sight of Sauron once – with his black armor gleaming underneath the overcast sky, and his copper hair loose and spilling about his shoulders in place of the sunlight above. His spirit blazed like fire for all to see, and the inferno of his presence was made all the more potent for the Ring he wore upon his finger . . . The One Ring rested like a fell specter over all with light in their souls during the two years that phase of the battle lasted, and even Haldir and Amroth would later speak but little to me of what they had felt on the battlefield.

    “It is not our enemies we fought, but we ourselves,” Haldir tried to explain once, and only once. “The Ring looks within you . . . through you, illuminating all that is marred about yourself to match the stain of this world. You must first rise over that haze in order to confront his legions, and do so quickly for the sea of foes waiting before you.”

    And, for some, that proved to be an impossible task. We lost many men in those early days . . . they fell so quickly, like twigs breaking before the might of a forest fire.

    Then . . . the walls of Ost-in-edhil gave. From the mountains, we watched as a burly troll marched at Sauron's side, carrying his banner – a lidless red eye set into a sea of black – the pole of which was skewered through Celebrimbor's body. He was crossed over with many wounds, and maimed so severely that at first he was not recognizable to our scouts. I sickened to hear of the Fëanorian's end, trying to remember the smiling man who carved toys in the city square rather than the wan and burdened creature who had endured on to the end. That night, I whispered my prayers to Námo, asking the Judge to have mercy on his soul. I hoped that, in death, Celebrimbor would finally find a semblance of peace long denied to him in life.

    Worse than Celebrimbor's death was what he had revealed before his end. Triumphantly, Sauron held up the Nine, and the six remaining of the Seven Rings before his bloodthirsty troops, and his army gave such a cry in reply . . . Their cry echoed all the way to Durin's halls, and great and terrible was its shape.

    Galadriel had been at the front of Celebrimbor's mind when he died, providing him with what strength and relief she could. Yet, it took her an entire day before she was able to speak of what she had seen in a low voice – hard with sorrow and anger. “Celebrimbor revealed all but the location of the Three. He would not give them away, no matter what torment Sauron inflicted upon him, no matter how deeply the Maia delved into his mind . . . He endured until Sauron at last pulled out his voice from his throat.”

    The sun had not yet set on Celebrimbor's death when Gil-galad's army finally arrived from Eriador, marching behind Elrond's command. That great host fell on Sauron's army in righteous fury and fey rage, yet Sauron's force of unnatural creatures was such a great might . . . such an overwhelming number . . . Even the best and brightest of the High-king's men were nothing more than a shield to allow those remaining of my father's men time enough to escape, and they knew it as they threw themselves in the melee to the death of many. Those surviving banded together, looking to retreat – and that is when our own force marched.

    We were small in number, even with Durin's might augmenting our own, but we were great in anger and determination. Our band of Elves and Dwarves assaulted the rear of Sauron's army as he made to advance on those who retreated, thus giving my father and Elrond time enough to escape north into the mountains. I saw little of the main fighting in those days, but I was often crossing from Lórinand to Moria to the back lines, helping to carry both messages and aid the supply chains, and what I did see . . .

    I do not have the words within me to properly explain the violence of those days . . . I still do not, not even after many centuries, and many such conflicts since scaring the land.

    In the halls of Moria, many of our wounded were gathered – from Lindon and Ost-in-edhil, as well as our own men - and worse than the actual battle was seeing the devastation it wrecked upon those who managed to survive. The weapons of Mordor were steeped in an unnatural ichor, and many were those who walked away from the battlefield with little of their minds intact - seeing into a world dark and shadowed, far beyond our own. Many suffered underneath the shadow of the One Ring, and I often tasted bile in my throat as I helped my mother tend to those wounded as best I could.

    “One must be born with Songs of healing within themselves to be a true healer, thus, I had to study and build my craft for many centuries to accomplish even the simplest of tasks,” Galadriel explained to a mortal man whose torn flesh she repaired with the help of Nenya – which, above all else, had been created to preserve and protect. “My last apprentice was a true healer, and he, in turn, was able to teach me things that I did not know before . . . about this, at the very least.” Her eyes twinkled as the Man looked on her in awe, and I felt my own heart give a queer little flutter in reply to her words – an unexpected flare of warmth in the face of the carnage that laid around me.

    Yet, it did not last long as I turned to the next wounded soldier awaiting our attention, and then I had time for thinking of little else.

    Beyond the mountain halls, the battle still raged. Sauron thankfully turned on the distraction we provided, incensed that we had dared strike at him. The division of his attention was enough for those surviving to escape into the mountain ways. As soon as the last soldier was concealed, Durin pulled his forces back, and all retreated into the halls of Moria – where the doors were shut and sealed for the last time. Sauron himself threw his enchantments at the gates, but he was unable to overthrow the strength of the Dwarves without expending more of himself than he had the time or will to do so. He had a larger target in mind: Lindon, where he was certain that the remaining two of the Three Rings had gone to Gil-galad for safekeeping - and rightly so.

    Sauron let Durin and his Ring be . . . but his thoughts were ever upon the Longbeards from that day forward, and for the malice in his heart, great would be the sorrows of Durin's heirs in the centuries to come.

    Then . . . then the days of waiting truly began, which, in some ways, were even worse than the days of outright battle. Safe in the forests, I sat with my mother as she closed her eyes and found her bond with my father deep within her soul - looking for news of those who survived.

    “They are safe.” After a long while, Galadriel opened her eyes to look at me. “They have found a hidden place in the mountains – a valley, concealed by stone and surrounded by falling water. For now, their place is secure.”

    She touched my hand, and I was rewarded with a glimpse of elegant cliffs and massive waterfalls, shielding thousands of Elves and Men within their hidden ways. The valley was beautiful in a natural way, and yet, even more cherished was the brush of my father's love and assurance that I felt. My relief was a nearly tangible sensation in that moment, and I missed him more fervently then than I had in centuries. Longing was thick in my veins as my mother ended the connection, eager as I was for the day when the siege on the valley would end, allowing us to be reunited again.

    The siege . . .

    Sauron left a third of his army behind in order to ensure that none would leave the Misty Mountains to follow him – either from the hidden valley, or from Moria. In the meantime, Sauron took the better part of his force and continued to march west - conquering most of Eregion and Eriador along the way. He burned the forests as he went, destroying the massive trees that had once stretched from the Misty Mountains to the Blue Mountains, and forcing out the Men and Elves who still lived there. As foreseen, the Men of Enedwaith and Minhiriath welcomed Sauron with open arms, foolishly hoping that he would save their forests from the Númenorean ship-yards . . . yet, he repaid their allegiance with fire, and with their forests those Men burned.

    Sauron's conquering of the land west of the Misty Mountains was nearly complete. Gil-galad desperately held Lindon and the Grey Havens, and yet, he had split his forces when he sent Elrond to Eregion, and those remaining were hard pressed to hold their ground against Sauron's wrath. Gil-galad would have been defeated utterly had it not been for an unexpected ally, finally upholding a promise of old . . .

    Númenor came to our aid as Gil-galad had long ago called for. Tar-Minastir held his aunt's crown in all but name at that time, and it was the King's own ship that led the fleet of massive war-ships, their holds filled to the brim with the Men of the West and arms aplenty. Tar-Minastir sent his foremost Admiral – Ciryatur – further south to the port of Lond Daer, where he then sailed up the Gwathló river to Tharbad, where his fleet engaged the rear of Sauron's army, just as Gil-galad and Tar-Minastir marched on his front.

    Trapped between Númenor and Lindon, Sauron's forces were overrun - even with the power of the One Ring upon his hand. Desperate to regain his lost ground, Sauron then called the rest of his army up from Eregion – yet, Celeborn and Elrond saw their chance, and marched forth with their own men - who, by then, had over a year to rest and recover, and were eager to return to the Maia the wounds they had suffered. The rest of Sauron's army was then destroyed between them and the Númenoreans who came further up the river to give them aid.

    Sauron alone survived that battle - he, and a small band of bodyguards, all flanking him as he retreated back across the land. All could feel his return to Mordor – his spirit snapping and sputtering like a black shadow in the sky, as if his presence alone was enough to devour the land below. For a moment, none could breathe as he passed, and then . . . it was over just as quickly as it had begun. Our forces had won. We had been victorious, and for now, Sauron would do us no harm as he nursed his wounds and planned his reply – and his vengeance - in private.

    Peace had been won . . . but at great cost. Eregion was no more, and nearly all of Eriador laid in ruin. Sauron had all of the Rings but for the Three, and his malice hung over us like stormclouds, watching . . . waiting . . . promising.

    Yet, while there was much left to do as the land was put to rights once more, I knew only joy as I sat by my mother's side, and felt my father's spirit flare from her bond with him. They had returned to the valley in the mountains – Imladris, as it was now being called – and they were already making progress with clearing the mountain ways of Sauron's remaining filth. By the spring, it would be safe for us to travel, Celeborn said, and he counted down the days to when he could see us both once more.

    “Which means . . .” I could not finish my thought. Relief and longing and giddy anticipation were all thick in my throat, robbing me of my voice.

    “Now, we make ready to depart,” Galadriel inclined her head. “Gil-galad's council will meet in Imladris, and I would be there to give my voice. And then . . .” her words faltered. A smile touched her mouth, rising to fill her eyes with such a light. “Your father and I have too long slept beneath different trees, and I would not be separated longer than need be. I am eager to return to him.”

    I could feel her anticipation and joy ripple across my spirit, and my own soul warmed in reply. And yet, even in the face of her joy, there was a new shadow to her eyes . . . a new weight. She had worn Nenya all throughout the war . . . which had stretched to last nearly six years in total. While the forests of Lórinand had blossomed and thrived underneath Nenya's enchantments . . . my mother . . .

    “I am well,” Galadriel heard my thoughts, and reached out to turn my chin up so that she could meet my eyes. She swept her thumb over my cheek in a mothering caress, and I leaned into the touch, needing it more than I first had thought. “You should know only joy in this moment, for all was nearly lost, and instead the land is allowed to heal and thrive anew. Take this time of peace for what it is, and allow the future to wait until tomorrow. I say this as one who has lived through many such wars . . . who has seen many such dawns.”

    I nodded, knowing that she spoke only wisdom. I allowed her spirit to pick up mine, and looked forward to the days to come with nothing but anticipation and hope.

    And yet . . . even then I could see how Galadriel looked past me when she thought I was not looking. Ever did her eyes seem to settle on the West, and I . . . I took in a deep breath, and exhaled with my fears and apprehensions. The future would bring with it its own pains, and for now there was nothing but the relief from victory, and joy for the reunions yet to come.

    I set my eyes firmly ahead, and told myself not to look back.

    ~MJ @};-
    RX_Sith likes this.
  9. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 7

    Aug 31, 2004
    This description is very lyrical, and it shows Celebrian's deep awareness of the forest:

    The high boughs were swaying and the deep roots were dancing as they joined their voice to Nenya, yet, the beauty of their symphony was one I could not fully allow myself to enjoy. I listened to their song, and only pursed my lips in reply, as if I heard discord rather than a song.


    This entire exchange is fraught with undercurrents of affection, apprehension, and candor. Celebrian has fortitude to speak up and clear perceptiveness. @};-

    When the sky started to take on shades of orange alongside the purple and the pink, she said to me in a whisper: “I have told you many times of Aman as I left it, have I not?”

    “Yes,” I whispered, looking out as she did to see the forests golden and rippling with new life. I tried to see what she saw, but the vision was lacking to my eyes.

    “It is nothing built by two hands that my heart yearns for in the home I left behind,” Galadriel continued. “It is more than that . . . it is the white glory of Alqualondë's sands, its pink stone and the pearl and sapphire of the sea . . . The great trees of Yavanna's forest, the youngest sapling there more awe inspiring than even the Great Mother in the Greenwood . . . The Holy Mountain, bathed in Tree-light, all gold and silver for the hour of Mingling Lights . . . I find that these are the wonders that I long for. And yet, my heart still has not turned towards the Sea. I love this land and my place in it, and if I could but touch the scar of its days in order to grant it a similar wonder . . . a similar glory,” her words tapered off, and her eyes upon the forest were nearly greedy then – hungry and fey.

    “And yet,” I said softly, “Some wounds are not for us to heal. Some things only the One may turn new again. Until then, it is to us to find beauty in the world we have, and embrace the shape that is given to us.”

    “And if those with duties to others find a way to lessen the hardships of those they serve?” Galadriel returned, choosing her words carefully. “Should they not accept that burden, no matter its shape?

    “Not with a weapon crafted by the Enemy's arts,” my voice turn hard as I spoke. I made fists of my hands about the railing of the balcony. “No, I do not find this to be a viable path to walk.”

    Finally, Galadriel turned to me. Her eyes were very bright in the growing morn. Too bright, I thought, seeing more than the remembered glow of the Trees' that normally dwelt there. I felt my pulse speed up, centuries of deference and respect demanding that I cast my gaze down - but I did not. I met her eyes, and held her look.

    “What would you have done in my place, then? Would you have had the losses we suffered this day doubled? Tripled, even? And all this before Sauron took the first step of his march?” Galadriel paused for a moment, her gaze unblinking upon me. Her expression was completely serene, completely still, yet I could feel a rising awareness from her spirit as it rose and rippled against my own. “Would you have added your own life to that number?” her voice was a low, dangerous sound as she said so. It took me a moment to realize that such a feeling was not directed towards me, but rather, against an enemy now dead and fallen. “You ask me to make a choice that I could not have made any other way.”

    I paused for a moment before replying . . . I hesitated. I felt as if I was at a fork in the path, with either road leading off to a deep and dangerous way. “Then,” I said slowly, “take Nenya off now. The Ring is as a beacon in the dark, and Sauron can feel you through it. That is not the attention Lórinand needs.”

    Galadriel looked down at the Ring, and I could feel a pulse of something fey in her spirit – something pleased and satisfied. Yet, her face remained neutral; her voice remained cool. “Yes, I am as a beacon to Sauron,” she agreed. “Should he ever turn his attention upon Nenya in full, his will shall dominate. Yet, until then, I shall remain as a reminder – a silent vow. Now so easily shall this world bow to the Shadow, no matter the arts he throws against us. The light of Middle-earth is one not so easily blown out, and I would have him remember this.”

    “Yet, I have to ask,” for the first, a note of feeling entered my voice. I tried to cool my words so that they did not come out touched with fear or frustration. I stood up tall against the growing weight of her spirit as it pulsed against my own – normally soothing and mentoring, but now irked for my daring to stand opposite of it. “Is it Galadriel who speaks so, or is it Artanis? Is it your duty, or is it your want that has you don this Ring?”

    For a long moment, Galadriel was silent. Her eyes narrowed about the edges in the only outward sign of her anger. “You forget yourself, child,” she counseled, and her voice was cold in comparison to the golden light that then turned smothering from Nenya upon her finger.

    “I only wish to make sure that you do not,” I returned. I inclined my head respectfully, even where I would not take my words back. “If my saying so is wrong, then I am glad. Yet, if there is even a glimmer of truth to them, then few are those who would dare say so. They are words I could not leave unspoken.”

    Galadriel paused, and I felt Nenya's power drew back. As the silence stretched, all I could feel was my mother's natural light, and the beauty of the approaching dawn. “Nenya is my duty,” she replied at long last, returning her gaze to the forest. “Nothing more.”

    I was not satisfied . . . not completely – but I had spoke my mind, and now it was to my mother to steer her course as she would. I nodded, mute in reply to her words, and turned to take my leave – suddenly weary from the events of the last few days. The battle-haze and adrenaline had failed me, and I now longed for rest.

    I said no farewell, but Galadriel turned as I did. “Celebrían,” she called, stopping me. “As your mother, I am proud of your actions this last day. I . . . I want you to know that your concerns are not merely your own. They plague me as well, and often are they at the forefront of my mind. Please, remember that, and take what comfort you may.”



    A smile touched her mouth, rising to fill her eyes with such a light. “Your father and I have too long slept beneath different trees, and I would not be separated longer than need be. I am eager to return to him.”


    Yikes, the battle lasted six years. [face_thinking] Hardwon battles and an uneasy peace. That latter should be cherished each second it lasts.
    I love Celebrian's resolve to focus on the positive, blessing side of the ledger. :) Looking forward to the meetings and reunions. ;)


  10. RX_Sith

    RX_Sith C&G Game Host star 5 VIP - Game Host

    Mar 13, 2006
    A long battle that truly never ceases; it may relent for a little while for Sauron to heal the wounds of his lost battle, but he is definitely planning for revenge and more upon his return.
  11. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Force Ghost star 6

    Aug 21, 2006
    long battle with Sauron. He will return
    And the last sentence
    'I set my eyes firmly ahead, and told myself not to look back' perfect
    Nyota's Heart likes this.
  12. Cael-Fenton

    Cael-Fenton Jedi Master star 3

    Jun 22, 2006
    This is amazing work. You really brought out a sense of the sweep and scale of the wars, but with a clear presence of Celebrían's personality that keeps the expository bits from being just exposition. I can't wait for the next instalment and the reunion with Celeborn (and perhaps a certain half-elf too)! [face_batting]

    (Apologies that I've been hardly around! Really busy with uni.)
    Nyota's Heart likes this.
  13. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The Fanfic Manager With The Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Jun 29, 2004
    RX_Sith: That's the best way to put it. He will definitely be back, and come back with a force. [face_worried]

    earlybird-obi-wan: Thank-you very much! That really is all you can do in cases like this - pick your head up and deal with the future one day at a time. :)

    Nyota's Heart: I love, love, loved writing that part, so I am stoked that you did as well! Their relationship has been a joy to write - as has it been interesting writing a character who matures over centuries rather than years. She's finally at a point where she can say that to her mother, and Galadriel will stop, and listen in return. But there is love on both sides, and that really does make all of the difference. [face_love][:D]

    Cael-Fenton: Oh, school always comes first! I am just glad that I can provide something to entertain you with when you do catch a break! As always, I thank you for your kind words - it's great to know that the war was interesting to read, and did not drag. It was a bit of a juggling act, trying to convey that much information without just dumping it over my reader's heads. :p As always, thanks for stopping in! [:D]

    Now, here we are with more! Enjoy. [:D]

    Entry XXV

    At long last, winter released it's hold on the forests, in more ways than one.

    The bloody years of fighting, and the long years of siege, gave way to a tentative beginning, the start of a watchful peace. The birds sang more brightly overhead, while the trees perked up their boughs in reply to the song of hope, heard from far off roots. Slowly, ever so slowly, those who knew suffering during the days of war hesitantly turned their faces towards the sun, as if unsure if it was yet safe to do so.

    Lórinand was full of hopeful voices, and I was happy to add my own to the chorus as the snow thawed, melting to feed the glorious white and gold flowers of spring now carpeting the forest floor. All around us, Lórinand came alive, and we roused ourselves from our own hibernation to join her in blooming.

    Now that the snows were melting, it was safe to brave the high passes of the Misty Mountains once more. I spent that day in the talan I shared with my mother, sorting out what we would bring with us, and what we would leave behind. We came with little, and we would not leave with much – though I had come to love the soft Sindarin weaves and the elegant Silvan styles that I had come to know in Lórinand, and I packed away many a new favored dress. Carefully, I put aside the dagger Sviur had given to me – for I would wear it strapped to my waist as we journeyed – remembering his pride in the works of his hand, and Austri's awe for the gift of my hair. Next, my hand lingered over the great book of tales Nothri had given to me in his final days. I packed the tome with a bittersweet sort of pang, reflecting that Lórinand had given much to me . . . much indeed, and I would always treasure the days I had spent here.

    Someday, I knew that I would return to see the forests again. Yet, until then, I was anxious for new ways and new lands. My years had not yet rooted me to the ground, content in one place as the centuries stretched on around me. Instead, I was eager and curious, my eyes on the horizon rather than on the sky. As much as I had come to love the forests, I was ready to see what the rest of Ennor had to offer to me.

    My pulse was eager and leaping beneath my skin as I busied myself with my task. As ready as I was for new sights and new stories, I was all the more ready to see my father again. It had been too long . . . much too long since I had last seen his face, and I was anxious for our years of separation to end. Though such long partings were but the blinking of an eye in the centuries of our lives, the fact remained that I had now spent over half of my life in Lórinand, far from my father's side. I knew that I was born to parents whose lives were not their own, and yet, while done for the best . . . the weight of those years still hurt, and I was ready for that pain to sooth itself and heal. At merely the thought, I felt a brush of Celeborn's spirit across my own – fond and affectionate – and I leaned into the touch of souls until he returned to his own tasks. I stood, smiling in the sunlight through the trees, for a long moment before I returned to packing, humming as I did so.

    I was still humming when I heard a soft knock at the door, and I opened it to see Haldir standing on the other side of the threshold. His stern features softened in greeting, and I looked to see where his left arm was in a sling and bandaged – an unfortunate side-effect from seeing the mountains ways clear of any straggling Orc-kind. I felt my face twist in sympathy, for he had survived the whole war unscathed, and reproached himself greatly for his laxed attention in the mountains.

    “I was looking for your mother,” Haldir greeted me. “The healer is still overwhelmed with her duties, and this task was simple enough that Galadriel said she would see to it.” He lifted his arm with a self-deprecating look.

    “Here,” I invited him in. “Mother has been speaking to Amdír all morning, and I am not sure how long she will be. But I have learned how to play the nurse well enough these past few years. I may be of aid to you.”

    Haldir raised a teasing brow in reply. “Should I fear for infection, then?” Even so, he sat down when I gestured for him to.

    “You may depart and wait for the healer if you fear my aid,” my eyes glittered with mirth, no matter that I spoke my words crossly. “Or you may ask Nórui to assist you – the choice is yours.”

    “I fear that I may lose the whole arm through Nórui's well meaning,” Haldir acceded in a grave tone, and I could not help but smile in return. “Please then, good lady, I would be a grateful patient.”

    I shook my head fondly, even as I turned to gather what I would need to clean the wound for him. As I busied myself with my task, he looked around the room – his gaze settling on the half packed bags and the empty spaces on the shelves with a look I could not quite define.

    “You are truly leaving us, then?” he asked. His tone was neutral to my ears, but I looked, and saw the set of his jaw.

    I paused before answering. I already said my goodbyes to Amroth and Nórui, and I had even been able to find Calelassel before she returned to the Greenwood to say my farewells to her – for I was not sure when I would be east of the mountains again. Yet . . . I had not yet spoken to Haldir of our departure. I frowned as I fetched a fresh roll of bandages, wondering over my own mind as I did so.

    “For now,” at last I answered. I darted my eyes to his before looking back down again. I found what I needed, and moved to sit in the chair opposite of his. “Lórinand is a beautiful realm,” I said, warmth filling my voice. “The forests cannot help but tug at your soul, so much so that I would someday like to return.”

    I helped him undo the ties of his sling, and I was even more careful when aiding him in removing his shirt, so that I could change the bandages high on his arm unencumbered. He had dislocated his shoulder during a fall in one of the high passes, and the healer had feared for internal damage to the cuff. Yet, due to her songs, he was mending, and the large gashes – stitched in tidy little rows – were healing quite nicely. He only needed the bandages changed and a salve applied twice a day – which meant that he spent more time than he wished in the healer's chambers, waiting for his turn amongst the many looking to make use of our one true healer. In times of peace, there were few tasks required of an elven physician, and yet, in times of war . . . Eithedis had hardly slept these last few years, and I knew her burdens to be wearisome indeed.

    “I have known no place better than Lórinand,” Haldir agreed with me, “And I have seen many in my days.”

    “It has been a home to me,” I said simply. “Yet, I have known more than one home, even in my few years, and I find that I am not yet ready for stillness. My feet long to walk again.”

    I undid the old bandages, and carefully pulled them away from his wound, glad to find that they did not stick. The stitches were clean, and the skin beneath was pink with new flesh as it healed. I looked his wound over with a careful eye, before applying the salve with a gentle hand. I could smell comfrey and lavender underneath the strong scent of clove, and Haldir made the barest of faces before his expression smoothed over once more. His skin jumped, not where I probed his wound, but where I rested my other hand on the curve of his shoulder, I noticed.

    “The world is open before you, now that Sauron is put to rest,” Haldir said. He always had a way of looking directly at me when he spoke, and I now felt his gaze as I finished with the salve.

    “For now it is,” I agreed with him, moving for the roll of fresh bandages. “And I hope that it continues to be so.” I then thought of Sauron, simmering upon his throne with the One Ring worn hot about his finger, and knew a chill that had nothing to do with the retreating winter. I frowned, feeling a whisper of foreboding that I wished I could do away with when all was bright around me.

    I rested my hand on the clean white lines of the bandages once his arm was properly wrapped again, yet, Haldir only saw me shiver. His clear blue eyes were very dark when I glanced up at him, and I suddenly felt self-conscious with his skin warm underneath my hands, and the air heavy with stillness around us.

    Blushing, I drew back from him, and handed him his tunic. I helped him don his shirt without jostling his arm, and as I did so I was acutely aware of every time I touched his skin. I moved the heavy fall of his hair free of his collar, and felt the strands cool and smooth as I let them fall into place against his back. I was acutely aware of how intimate the gesture was, even when done to aid a friend, and I exhaled shakily, realizing that I had held my breath.

    My fingers were clumsy as I retied the knot for his sling. They would not aid me, and I felt my blush deepen in reply. Haldir was still staring at me, yet I could not quite bring myself to meet his eyes.

    “Once, I would have hoped for you to stay here,” he said in a low voice – the barest of whispers. “I had hoped that you would not wish to leave.”

    I . . . I think I had known this for a very long time. Amroth and Nórui certainly tried to imply his feelings were so - yet I had remained willfully ignorant, as if he was simply a friend in my mind, then in his thoughts I would be the same.

    “You wanted for me to stay . . . with you?” I asked, already knowing his answer. I found my courage, and looked up to meet his eyes. The warmth I saw in his gaze touched something within me, and I did not move away from him when he lifted the hand of his good arm to cradle the side of my face. His touch felt comfortable upon my cheek, and I knew what he wanted even before he dipped his head to kiss me. I stiffened, and yet, I did not immediately turn him away.

    It certainly was not unpleasant kissing him. I felt a contented warmth fill my stomach, and I relaxed after a moment. I shifted closer to him, curious for the tingling sensation that filled my body in reply to the nearness of his. It was not unpleasant, per say, and yet . . .

    I continued to kiss him, but I could not feel his spirit against my senses. I had that old sense of familiarity that came from knowing him for so long, but there was no spark, no jump of flame or surge of rightness.

    . . . perhaps it was silly of me to think that all loves should be as simple as Beren seeing Lúthien for the first time and knowing. Perhaps such a thing was merely the stuff of tales . . . Love could certainly grow with time . . . had it with me? I pondered that question, and truly considered my heart. Could I love him? I wondered. I already knew that I dearly cared for Haldir – as a friend, as a companion and comrade . . . but as a mate? I pressed closer to him, I allowed him to deepen the kiss between us, but I did not feel the instinct to grasp his soul and draw it near to mine . . . I did not feel that pressing urge to bind my spirit to his.

    No . . . I knew the truth of my heart, even as I drew away from him. He was not my match.

    Haldir exhaled when I did so, and yet, he did not try to kiss me again. He rested his brow against my own, but when he touched my cheek, there was only fondness in the gesture. He sighed, and I knew that he understood my feelings, even without my having to say a word. I looked up to meet his eyes, suddenly worried for having caused him a wound with my decision, with my years of willful blindness – but there was no pain in his expression. There was only acceptance.

    Perhaps, like me, he too had not found what he searched for.

    “You have been a great friend to me, Haldir,” I said, affection turning my voice warm. “I am thankful to have met you.”

    “And I will continue to be so,” he said simply. “As long as you have need of me.” He stood, and I looked for awkwardness or discomfort in his stance. I was relieved to find neither. Instead, it was as a weight had lifted from between us, and when he turned to say farewell to me, the warmth in his eyes still remained.

    “I hope that you find what you are looking for beyond the mountains,” he said. “Perhaps, when your feet are ready to grow roots . . .”

    “Perhaps I shall look here,” I said with a small smile. “Someday.”

    “Someday,” he echoed. He looked at me one last time, and I saw only that brief flicker of regret in his eyes as he turned away. I watched him leave, and stayed in my place for a long moment, contemplating what had passed between us, before rising to finish my own tasks.

    Not even a week passed before my mother and I stood at the boundaries of the forest, and there we said our goodbyes.

    It was a bittersweet thing, bidding new friends farewell and wishing loved ones happiness until the next time we would meet. My mother had a way of making herself necessary to all who knew her, and there were misty eyes aplenty for our departure. Amdír kissed Galadriel's hand, and said that the light of Lórinand would be the slightest bit dimmer with her gone, while many lined up to give her their tokens and well wishes. I said goodbye to my friends in turn – to Amroth who swept me in his arms and spun me in a fond circle, and Nórui who smiled all the more widely so that I would not see the wet shine to his eyes. Haldir kissed my cheek and wished me the best, and I was glad for the peace I saw in his eyes as he did so.

    Then, there was nothing but the road and the path before us. This was to be my first time crossing over the mountains, rather than cutting through the halls of Moria, and we had study, sure-footed horses to help us along our way. I was not as comfortable on horseback as I was on foot, but the grey mare I rode was a kind, gentle creature, who tossed her head for the note of warmth on the air, and whinnied as if greeting the mountains before her.

    For the most part, Galadriel and I traveled in silence. We passed the gates of Moria – still firmly shut, with not a soul entering and not a soul departing as the Dwarf-king sat, greedy with his Ring, upon his throne. I thought of Nothri as we passed, I even thought of Austri and Svuir and Brokkr, forcing myself to remember with fondness rather than grief, before settling my memories in the back of my mind, and continuing on.

    The mountains were a glorious and treacherous sight as they rose before our eyes. Caradhras was not a kind peak, and it seemed as if he trembled in anger for feet crossing over his face. I swallowed away my ill thoughts though, and pressed on in silence until we reached the eastern slopes some days later, where I again felt as if I could breathe.

    Beyond me stretched the broad and sweeping ways of Eregion . . . or, what remained of that land. So little of the landscape was what I had known in my childhood, or even the earliest days of the war. Ruin laid in every direction, stretching as far as the eye could see. In the foothills, the unending wooded lands were nothing more than stumps and rubble, with thick, hardy tufts of grass growing and trying to reclaim the land as their own. I stared, and felt my heart turn heavy with the tangible proof of Sauron's scourge upon the land.

    “Once, a squirrel could carry a nut from here to Lindon without having to touch the ground,” Galadriel said in a hard voice. I looked, and found her eyes fierce, her jaw tight with anger. “Many will be the years until it is so again.”

    Barely . . . just barely, I could feel the old roots underneath the burnt ground, and I knew that the land would recover itself. Yet, the years would be long and the days of toiling many until Sauron's mark would be erased from the earth. I did not know if that was a sight we would see this age.

    Instead of descending down into the foothills, we kept north in the mountains, following the smallest of trails – provided by my mother feeling for the connection she bore with my father in her mind, and following it. Her way had yet to lead us untruly, and we never took a path we could not cross.

    With every step we took nearer to Imladris, my mother's spirit seemed to brighten. There was a hungry look deep in her eyes, and the anticipation that rippled from her fëa was greater than the overwhelming glow of Nenya. She looked more aware of the world around her than she had in months, the weariness she bore for carrying the Ring second to her love for my father. I stared more than I knew I should, grateful for the changes I could see about her – no matter how temporary it would later prove to be.

    “You continue to stare at me as if I am glass,” Galadriel remarked when I let my gaze linger for too long. Her voice was wry as she spoke. “I promise you, I shall not break.”

    I flushed, and immediately looked down. “I did not mean to,” I said, but I need not have worried – there was amusement in my mother's eyes, warmth and affection, rather than irritation.

    She raised a brow. “No?” she asked. “Your thoughts must be many, for you have been unusually silent this journey. Normally, it is as if I travel with a bird by my side, always chirping.”

    “My thoughts have been many,” I confessed. “I have merely been trying to order them.”

    “Ah,” Galadriel said, and the warmth in her gaze turned thoughtful. “The March-warden spoke to you, then?”

    “Yes,” I answered after a heartbeat, not bothering to ask how she knew. Some things were simply known to Galadriel, and that was that. “While it was not a proposal, he most certainly implied an invitation to stay. Yet, I . . .” I bit my lip as my words faltered, unsure of how to phrase my thoughts, even when they had consumed my mind as we crossed the mountains. “He is dear to me,” I finally said. “Still . . .” I want what you share with my father, I thought, but did not say. “I did not find my heart inclined towards his,” I finished simply, and waited for my mother to speak.

    “You were wise to wait,” Galadriel said after a moment. “Such decisions are not to be made lightly.”

    “And yet,” I pondered aloud, “did I make the wrong choice? For I do love him – truly I do – but not in the way a wife loves her husband, or so I think. Yet, is it foolish of me to expect more? Is such a love something that develops with time, or is it something immediate? Something that you simply know?”

    While the stories would paint it one way, I knew that sense would advise time and knowing for any true connection between a couple. Once, Nothri had chuckled at my tales, amused that for our countless centuries of living, we often found our partners with merely a glance. It had to be a joke of the One, he had been all too amused to point out. He had then claimed that Dwarves had the better sense of it - with their few women looking for an able provider and protector in a husband, and worrying for love only later. Yet, I had challenged his view – for Nothri had been relieved when he grew to love his arranged mate, and he had refused to let his sister marry for anything less than a true attachment of the heart, at that. He was as full of hot air as his forge bellows were, and our conversation had soon deteriorated after that.

    “Foolish would have been you settling for less when you know that you desire more,” Galadriel said after a moment of consideration. “His being a good friend does not translate to him being suited to you as a mate – which is a conclusion that he reached, as well, for there was peace in your parting, was there not?”

    I nodded at her words, knowing her to speak truly. Even so, I felt a pang at her words. Once more, I found my thoughts turning to my parents. Celeborn often said that he had been smitten with merely a glance – for my mother had been as the second coming of the sun to him, and he had been enchanted as only Beren or Thingol could understand. Yet, my father was often prone to exaggerate such stories, and I was not sure how much of that was a tale for my child's ears. While the idea of such a moment of connection was enchanting, I still could not help but think . . .

    As if hearing my thoughts, Galadriel smiled – a small, soft smile that was far away from me as she said, “I did not come to this land intending to find a husband or start a family. I came to Endórë to see the works of Fëanor put to right, to see the land that my people had traveled from, to find a place and a belonging of my own. I wanted a place where I was not the youngest amongst the many heirs of Finwë, and lesser amongst the many powers sharing a land needing not of such strength. I had no reason to seek out love, and no inclination to wed – to the contrary, I had seen love lay too many strong woman low during the Darkening, and in some ways I disdained it as a weakness . . . I watched as my grandmother held herself composed when Finwë supported the insanity of his eldest son out of guilt over a woman who had long ago chosen death, forgetting the wife that loved him and the sons who had to fight for his favor as Fëanor never had . . . I watched as Nerdanel – one of the brightest and wisest of the Eldar – wasted away to practically nothing for sharing her soul with so many children, until she had not the strength to counsel her wayward husband any longer . . . I watched as Anairë refuse to cry when her husband prepared to leave her behind for a land whose hardships she could not bear to endure . . . her face was the same as Amarië's face, as Eldalótë's face . . . and I had only been able to think that their affliction was one I wanted not of. If that pain and weakness was the price of love, then I would have little to do with it – of this, I had been certain.

    “Even coming to Doriath, I viewed myself as more than the people of the forest. I was of the West; I had known the glory of the Trees, and the tutelage of the Valar themselves – I had thought that the Moriquendi would have but little to offer me. My opinions were not swayed by the majesty of Melian, or the beauty of Lúthien - who had a humility I did not, and she was the daughter of a Maia, at that . . . I first met your father in a thicket of birch trees outside of Menegroth. It was an official first meeting, but while Angrod introduced us to Thingol and his immediate family, I found my eyes straying to where Celeborn stood further back with the lesser princes. He was standing between Galathil and Thranduil – the three were speaking, and I did not at first think him to see me. Yet, I remember the way the sun caught in the silver of his hair, making it appear molten – for the light of Anar was still a new and novel thing, and wondrous to the eyes. I remember that he wore robes of blue and grey, embroidered with stars, and there was a white stone in the circlet atop his brow. If asked, I could tell you not one word of what Thingol said in greeting . . . but I could tell you much of this.

    “I pretended not to notice him, of course,” Galadriel continued with a wry look. “Yet, he was like a spark against my spirit. All of my senses were acutely aware of him, even when I was cool and unwelcoming to even the smallest of his kindnesses out of annoyance for my own interest. Yet, he was patient, and over time he broke through my misconceptions about the Moriquendi and Endórë as a whole. I learned through his words, I saw this world through his eyes, and I came to love this land as much as I found a belonging with him. When . . . certain revelations were made about the Kinslaying at Alqualondë . . . where I had stained my hands red with elven blood . . . it was then I who was brought low before another. I was lesser then, but I did not feel small in that knowing . . . I felt protected . . . I felt safe. I considered myself his equal after that, and I have ever since then. So, did I love him at first sight? Perhaps. At the very least, my spirit knew its match in but an instant, and pulled me down my path. Yet, love – true love – came with our centuries together, and it has only grown since then, if that helps you answer your question.”

    As always, the warmth with which she spoke of my father was all but tangible, and I turned towards it as I would tilt my face to the sun. I let it fill my spirit with contentedness and a belonging of my own before asking, “Is it the same for most?”

    Galadriel was thoughtful for a moment. She did not answer me right away. “Finrod met Amarië and knew – and yet, Finrod was a romantic, and soft even about his bones. Angrod was oblivious to his own heart, his own feelings, and yet, Eldalótë was patient – and the look on his face when he finally understood his attachment was quite priceless indeed. Aegnor . . . he refused his love out of desperation and pain, but, even so, he carried his love for Andreth the mortal woman until his death. My own parents were but children when they met, and they grew into love – while Fingolfin my uncle and Anairë his wife were the closest you can come to an arranged match between our kind. Yet, they suited each other, and quickly found their bond even with their parent's choosing.” Galadriel shrugged. “Each match is different, and yet, that love at the core of each is the same. You will know it when you find it; you shall not have to search, and wonder if it is there.”

    We were then silent as the mountains passed away underneath us. I was quiet with my thoughts as my mother fell into her memories – for she was the last one left where once many had stood, and this was the most she had spoken to me of her family in many years. She looked to the West – where her father reigned as King out of Tirion, and her brothers no doubt walked free from death in new bodies once more. As best I could, I reached out to push my love and affection to her, and she accepted my offering with a small nod of gratitude. When she turned her eyes to the path again, I knew she had left her ghosts behind once more.

    “Someday, you shall meet them all,” Galadriel said softly. “And yet, until that time . . .” she looked ahead, and her eyes were very bright. We are close, I could hear her thought brush against my mind, rather than spoken aloud.

    Sure enough, I could hear the sound of falling water ahead – like thunder rolling beyond the horizon. This high in the mountains, the trees were untouched by the ruin of war, and the evergreens grew tall and mighty above me. The great formations of stone around us were grey and blue, shimmering in the midday sun and strong as they held up the rivers and streams flowing down from the high peaks in the mountains. Over the natural beauty of the land, I could feel a thrum, a low ebb of power, that typically gave away a dwelling of the Elves before any sight could be seen. Wondrous, I inhaled with the new pulse I could feel singing through my bones, lighting up my senses.

    We moved from our slow walk into a quick trot, unable to do little more on the steep path, yet that little was enough. Only minutes passed before we came to a clearing in the trees, and we looked down on one of the most glorious sights I had yet to see in my years.

    The gleanings I had seen from my father's mind did not do the valley justice. All around, massive waterfalls tumbled down from the cliffs into the winding rivers far below. The mist from the cascades caught on the sunlight, throwing prisms of light and color every which way – dancing over the tops of the trees, and the elegant sight of an elven dwelling – hardly visable from this height, and young in construction, but a sure sign that we had found where we were meant to go.

    I looked, and Galadriel's eyes were aglow as she looked down – no doubt able to feel exactly where my father was, even from here.

    When she spoke, her voice was full with warmth. “Welcome to Imladris,” she said to me, and then we turned to descend into the valley below.

    ~MJ @};-
    RX_Sith likes this.
  14. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 7

    Aug 31, 2004
    Such lovely descriptions of burgeoning spring in Lorinand and the exquisiteness of Imladris :)

    I am glad that Haldir and Celebrian were able to part on friendly peaceable terms @};-

    Her talk with Galadriel - loved and agreed with every word. [face_dancing]

  15. RX_Sith

    RX_Sith C&G Game Host star 5 VIP - Game Host

    Mar 13, 2006
    A truly heartfelt talk between mother and daughter as they show each other their love and wisdom.
    Nyota's Heart likes this.
  16. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Force Ghost star 6

    Aug 21, 2006
    Love how she cared for her friend Haldir and the talk between her and Galadriel
  17. Cael-Fenton

    Cael-Fenton Jedi Master star 3

    Jun 22, 2006
    Lovely mother/daughter moments, and a gorgeous description of Imladris. I'm glad Haldir found some peace with his feelings, poor guy.

    Looking forward to the family reunion! (And Elrond ;))
    Nyota's Heart likes this.
  18. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The Fanfic Manager With The Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Jun 29, 2004
    Nyota's Heart: Why thank-you! It certainly was a fun chapter to write, and I am glad that you enjoyed it. [:D]

    earlybird-obi-wan: Thanks! :D

    RX_Sith: Thank-you very much. :)

    Cael-Fenton: Poor guy, indeed! :( I like to think that Haldir moves on and finds someone awesome - while staying far, far away from Helm's Deep, that is. ;) And now! For the part we have all been waiting for . . .

    Here we are! Believe it or not, this was actually the hardest chapter for me to write thus far. I am used to working with slow burns and long, friends-to-something-more relationships. But, Tolkien was quite the romantic, and a fan of the whole 'love at first sight' deal. So, this was quite the learning experience for me from a writing stand-point! That said, I hope that you enjoy . . . ;) [face_mischief]


    Entry XXVI

    Now that our destination was in sight, my pulse thrummed with an eager pace through my body. Each moment that passed instead seemed to be as minutes, turning me restless in my seat. The grey mare I rode nickered anxiously, picking up on the tension in my body. I tried to compose myself, schooling my face into a thoughtful and serene expression, but a smile continually broke through my most ardent endeavors. I could not hold it back.

    We had scarce started down the path before becoming aware of a rider approaching us. His was a bright presence – even for an elf – and I could feel him, even before I could properly see him. The light of his spirit was like the sun peeking over the horizon, and I turned towards the cast of his fëa, intrigued for his presence.

    “Greetings, good ladies!” a warm voice spoke, and we turned around the next bend in the trail to see a blonde elf astride a prancing white courser. This man was clearly a warrior with his tall, broad form, and a military precision to his seat in the saddle. Even so, his smiling countenance bellied the strength and battle in his stance, his face was one of the kindest I had yet to see, unfailingly joyous and bright. While he was handsome in the typical way of the elves, it was not his beauty, so much as his light that caught my attention and held it. His eyes were brighter than even my mother's, and while I recognized the ancient memory of the Trees in his gaze, there was something different about him . . . something more. While we could call our fëar to the forefront of our beings when such power was called for, he seemed to wear the light of his spirit about him as if it was his skin itself; turning him as a beacon, even in the bright, cheerful sun of the day.

    Curious, and more than aware that I stared, I studied him, trying to solve the riddle of his presence. I took in the yellow-gold of his hair - different than the pale blonde of the Sindar, and the elegant lines of his face - curiously seeing neither Sindar or Noldor in their shape, but, rather . . .

    “Glorfindel,” my mother's voice was steeped with affection as she greeted him. “Too many times the sun has turned since last we met.”

    “We have not seen each other since Lindon was but stones being piled atop stones, it is true,” Glorfindel agreed, his expression as rueful as his smile was fond. “Then, it seemed that my bones were much younger in my body, indeed.”

    Now I was doubly aware of my staring, and yet, I could not help myself. My expression took on a bit of awe and fascination - for this was a character of renown and legend turned living and breathing before me. His strange appearance suddenly made sense, for he was Vanyarin - the a cousin of Elenwë, the wife of Turgon, in the olden days - and he carried both the light of the golden ones about him as he did the glory of the West. In the noontime of the First Age he had died – died - when fulfilling his vows of fealty and love to Turgon his King. He had slain a Balrog at the cost of his own life, all so that Princess Idril and her family could escape unscathed along with those who survived the destruction of Gondolin. He had later been returned to life anew through Námo's grace, and now . . .

    How many times had I used his name when playing with Sítheril as children? I had tied a golden scarf about my head, calling myself Glorfindel the Golden-haired while she renamed herself Ecthelion the Fair, and we had hunted for Balrogs in the peaceful ways of Ost-in-edhil while our elders looked on in bemusement. There was even that one unfortunate summer in my childhood when I had declared that I would never wed for my heart belonging to Glorfindel, insisting that I would be the wife of the Balrog-slayer, or none at all. I felt my cheeks flush at the memory, hoping – praying, really – that my mother's unfaltering ability to share the most unflattering anecdotes at the most inopportune times would not rear its ugly head now.

    “Yet, seeing you does much to return my youth to me,” Glorfindel continued on an easy voice, turning from Galadriel to glance at me. Underneath his undivided attention, his gaze was even brighter to my eyes – and, foolishly, I worried for him plucking my childhood memories out of the air between us. “Speaking of, who is this enchanting creature I see before me? She cannot be your daughter, for it seems as if only yesterday that you were an elfling trailing behind Finrod and Turgon - determined that you could keep up with us on your pony.”

    Apparently, my mother was not the only one who could let slip such tales of youth. Glorfindel grinned with an unmistakable delight, even when my mother simply raised a pale brow in answer to his words. She did not deign his statement worth a reply.

    “This is Celebrían Celeborniel,” Galadriel introduced me, her voice carrying both amusement and pride. “And she is indeed my daughter.”

    If anything, Glorfindel's smile only grew. He looked at me as if I was already dear to him, and just that quickly, I felt at ease in his presence. I felt a giddy, leaping sensation in my stomach, my awe for a childhood hero come to life still not quite real before me.

    “It is a pleasure to meet you,” Glorfindel greeted warmly. “From a glance, I can already see that you bear the best of both of your parents.” He reached out to kiss the back of my hand, and his touch, like the rest of him, was warm and bright. “Which leads me to say,” he turned to my mother. “Celeborn wished to be the one to greet you, but due to my great fortune – and his choice words for my joy – the day conspired against him. Thus, it is to me to lead you into the valley, if you would care to follow me?”

    He did not have to say nothing more. Just as quickly, my awe and curiosity took a backseat to my eagerness for our destination, and words were turned aside in favor of our continuing down the path. We descended down the rocky ways, following the long, graceful spout of one of the larger waterfalls to where it emptied into the basin of a river, its waters deep and blue as they sparkled in the sun. When we were nearly as low as it was possible to descend, I looked up at the cliffs surrounding us. The enclosed feeling of the mountains made you feel embraced and guarded, and the acoustics of the massive cliffs played with the song of the water and the chatter of the cascades. The newly budding trees swayed in time to the rhythm of the waterfalls, curious for the new travelers walking beneath their eaves. For centuries they had known no living souls but for the birds and the forest creatures, and they were now curious for their new tenants. This was a spring in more ways than one, and they looked down on the bustle of activity with old, unblinking eyes.

    I let the trees greet me, even as I turned my face into the mist coming up from the waterfall. My eyes were not sure where to turn first, wondrous as I was for the many twists and turns of the new landscape around me. There was so much I was eager to see, and my eyes fell over tree and river and stone with a ceaseless glance, ever finding something new to look on and marvel over.

    Even as I put pen to paper now, I find it hard to find the words to describe the wonder and beauty of Imladris. For thousands of years, the valley was my home, and its beauty always remained as poignant to me as it was at the first. Even then, in the youth of its construction, it was a place that bustled, fit to burst, with so many souls seeking both shelter and peace. The memory of those days remains cherished in the long halls of my mind, and I can still recall the sweet sensation of the mist beading against my skin . . . the cool wind, heralding the first days of spring . . . the song of the water, laughing over the riverstones . . . the cadence of the waterfalls as they lulled me to sleep. I can remember it all if I but close my eyes, and I hope . . . I pray that it is a memory I will keep as my days in the West stretch on.

    Glorfindel soon led us over the rapids of the river by way of a stone bridge, upon which we were immediately engulfed in a swirl of activity. Everywhere I looked, there were people of all sorts. I saw both the silver-white heads of Círdan's Sea-elves, the Falathrim; and I espied many a dark-haired Noldor elf, their accents ranging from Lindon to Ost-in-edhil. There were numerous people of the Sindar, both from the east of the mountains and the west, and I even espied a Silvan elf or two – no doubt Oropher's men, who had been trapped from their commanders during the violence of the retreat. Along with the numerous Elves there were Men . . . so many of them. Once, Eregion had teemed with its human population, and the survivors of that people were now safe and hidden away here, preparing to return to their lives anew. Along with the Edain of Middle-earth, I even spied Númenorean garbs and accents in those who passed, and for that I knew true curiosity – knowing the Men of the West in name only. It was a melting pot of many peoples and places, each gathered together against a common enemy and still leaning upon one another to rebuild following the war's end.

    Glorfindel was still speaking to my mother as we walked, he being one of the few beings in Middle-earth even older than she – in mind, if not in body – and she let him speak uninterrupted, fondness softening her expression as he chatted on and on. For me, I made out little more than the warmth of his voice as I took in the new cast of buildings – more condensed here, and then dotting down the river as far as I could see – rising all around us. For the most part, the emerging city looked practical and simple, built as it was in war, and hastily put together so that the Men would have a roof over their heads come the winter snows. But, I could see where itchy elvish hands had started to expand on the initial design. Already stonemasons and woodworkers elevated the construction bit by bit, adding an elegantly spiraling architecture to the base concept - highlighted their work with motifs of leaves and vines, while grand arches and balconies framed the natural landscape nearly everywhere I looked.

    Imladris would be beautiful once it grew into itself, I could not help but think. I then wondered if Gil-galad intended to let this settlement stand, or, would everyone here simply return to where they were before the war? That thought brought a strange sort of weight to my spirit, one that I turned over curiously before casting aside.

    And yet, my fascination for the tangible aspects of Imladris faded the moment I felt a familiar warmth burst against my senses. This was different than a bond stretched far across miles, and stolen glimpses gleaned from my mother's mind. This was -


    The cool, sunny day had brought many outside to enjoy the weather after so long a winter spent indoors. There, in a beautiful courtyard framed by budding cherry trees, with a natural cascade of water spilling over the stone walls, Celeborn stood with a half a dozen other elves. They all circled a table, maps and architectural sketches spread out before them as they mused and planned in thoughtful voices. I, however, had eyes only for my father – robed in the darkest of blues, with his silver hair braided elegantly away from his face. He was at once wonderfully familiar and achingly foreign to my eyes, and I found myself dismounting, greedy with my need, even before I realized my doing so.

    As quick as a thought, Glorfindel reached forward to take the reins of my mare, and, thus free, I ran forward to greet my father. Just as I could feel Celeborn against my spirit, he too felt my arrival. He turned and opened his arms, just in time for me to throw myself into his embrace.

    I felt my feet leave the ground as he picked me up and spun me about. Whatever greeting I first thought to give came out as wordless sound of joy, speech failing me as the world righted itself once more. Even upon placing me back on the ground, I could not force myself to back away. I instead rested my hands on his shoulders, remembering then just how tall he was. The strong lines of his body, harder for his knowing war; the exact shape of his smile, growing across his face; the precise color of his eyes, even when they were a mirror of my own – I relearned everything I could in a breathless, treasured moment, refusing to blink so that I could see him better.

    Three hundred years, the thought became a wound. We had been apart for more than half of my lifetime, and I then felt tears touch my eyes for the weight of those years. I saw my own emotions reflected in Celeborn's gaze as he cupped my face in his hands, closely studying my features for any change. Physically, I had altered but little; yet my eyes had seen many new sights and wonders, and my heart had known the touch of both war and loss. I felt older than the girl who left Ost-in-edhil, and he now looked to find the woman I had grown into within my gaze.

    “My child,” was all that Celeborn breathed, wiping a stray tear from the corner of my eye before it had time to fall down my cheek. As best I could, I smiled to assure him that there was more happiness than grief in my tears. A moment later, I found it within me to step back, and I did so with an unsteady step, aware of the eyes that had turned up to watch us – each gaze fond and understanding in turn. Imladris was full of many who looked forward to having such a reunion with their own families – or, had just recently been reunited with their loved ones – and such moments were healing for the entire community after so many years of war.

    While there were fond smiles aplenty for my reunion with my father, all those gathered inclined their heads in respect when my mother stepped forward. Those who knew the Lady of Light in name only even bowed before Galadriel waved a hand, freeing them from their respects. There were times when I found it easy to forget the might of her hand, the reach of her radiance, and I was then reminded of the power of her presence as she stepped forward - every inch a returning queen, looking on those gathered with a gentle, arched brow.

    Yet, revered amongst Elvendom as Galadriel was, she was still a wife who had not seen her husband in much too long. Though she did nothing more than step up to my father and take his hands in her own, everyone in the courtyard could feel the link that bound them together. They needed no words, but there was nothing left unsaid with the way Celeborn stared at her – awe and tenderness still bright in his eyes, even after their many thousands of years of marriage. It was as if he was seeing her for the first time all over again, I could not help but think, my heart twisting happily at the sight. I inhaled with the last of our years spent apart, and felt completion fill me when I exhaled once more.

    And yet, all the while, I had the most curious sensation of being stared at. There was one set of eyes not captivated by my parent's reunion, and a strange sort of shiver ghosted up and down my spine, whispering that I was being watched.

    Intrigued, I turned, and found the gaze of one elf in particular. He had been standing at my father's side when we arrived, and, even now, he was half-obscured by Celeborn's shadow. He was still bent over the table with a quill in hand, interrupted from making some note on the parchment – where he had not moved from since our arrival, even though he straightened when he saw me catch his stare.

    With a jolt, I found myself recognizing him. The Mirror, I thought, remembering the strange, breathless sensation I had experienced when I first saw him, all those years ago. The same awareness I felt then took me in that moment, and I found myself holding my breath as my eyes took him in – slowly tracing over the tall shape of his form and the long fall of his night-black hair. Like many we had passed, he was still dressed as a soldier, clad in Gil-galad's colours of dark blue and pale gold. He wore no armor in the shelter of the valley, but dark leathers instead, and I found myself staring – taken by the combination of strength and grace I saw when he stepped more fully into my line of sight – to better look at me, the thought caused a giddy, breathless sort of feeling to rise high in my lungs. I breathed in with it, not yet ready to let it go.

    Curious, I could not keep myself from staring. His features were not typically elven, I thought next - spying both the strong lines of the House of Finwë – the same lines my mother bore – next to something else, something different in the arch of his brow and the thin line of his mouth. His most striking feature was his eyes – a pale grey in colour, nearly silver – and as warm as a summer day. His gaze was Lúthien's gaze, passed down through her children's children, and I found myself unable to look away.

    He watched me the same as I watched him, unblinking and aware. I felt as if I should look away – I was staring most ungraciously, really – and yet, my eyes were quite unwilling to obey the orders of my mind. I felt as if the air crackled and charged between us, gathering to ripple with storm light. Instead of politely turning away from him, I felt myself take an unconscious forward, and then another – only to stay my course when Galadriel turned away from Celeborn in order to smile fondly at Elrond.

    “Dear one,” she greeted with affection in her voice, and Elrond turned away from me a heartbeat later than he should have. He did so, perhaps I hoped to think, as if he had to force his eyes away. “It is good to see you hale and whole once more.”

    “Much through the efforts of your husband, I have to admit - for many were the days of peril we faced,” Elrond returned ruefully, turning completely from me in order to kiss the back of my mother's proffered hand. Her eyes were warm with a true fondness, even as her brow dipped in consideration as she glanced at me and then back to him.

    “I have never found Celeborn to be anything less than gracious with his generosity, it is true,” Galadriel remarked, glancing at my father – my father, who lingered a step back and glanced between me and Elrond as if baffled by what he saw. I felt my face flush, then, wondering just how obvious I had been with my staring. Even now it was a battle to look on all those who spoke, instead of turning again to -

    “In some ways I can be,” Celeborn did not quite agree with his wife's words, for which Galadriel raised a brow - an expression which he pointedly ignored. Instead, he turned to Elrond, while gesturing at me. “Elrond, may I present to you my daughter, Celebrían Celeborniel.” He then turned to me, and I was caught by a curious searching in his eyes. “Celebrían, this is Elrond Peredhil, Gil-galad's heir and herald.”

    “It is a pleasure to meet you,” I said, finding that I did not have to search for my smile – instead, I had to fight to keep it graceful and gentle upon my face, when what I really wanted to do was gape and grin foolishly at him. I stepped forward, finding my legs oddly unsteady to support me as I offered him my hand.

    “The pleasure is mine, I can assure you,” Elrond said, and I was struck by how rich and warm his voice was. It seemed to ripple over my senses as if he touched my physically, and I had to swallow against the tight feeling I could feel settle about my throat. The pale grey of his eyes was a shade of summer storm as he bent over to kiss the back of my hand in greeting – a moment that was over all too soon, I thought. I did not have nearly enough time to process the warmth of his hand about my fingers or the racing sensation that came from where his mouth ghosted across my skin – and then he was stepping back again.

    “Your stories did not include how beautiful your daughter was,” Elrond said to Celeborn, even when he did not look away from me as he said so. He lingered close to my side, I noticed, and my head was deliciously muddled as I concentrated on the heat I could feel from his nearness. My fëa swam against the surface of my skin, as if attempting to reach out for his, and I had to fight to dampen the sudden fey alertness that sharpened my senses. With that barest of glimpses, I could feel the great cast of his fëa – a massively blue shape, like the night sky as the stars first appeared – and I felt drawn towards it. I had to fight to keep my own spirit constrained, suddenly understanding the great force that had moved Melian to capture and claim Thingol as her own without a word ever spoken between them. I understood then why Lúthien would sacrifice everything she knew and held dear . . . I understood why Idril counted herself brave enough to claim what few years she could with Tuor before facing her countless centuries alone . . . I understood, and something inside of me soared for the knowledge.

    “For some things, there are no words,” Celeborn at last answered, still glancing between Elrond and I. Galadriel had stepped forward to take her husband's hands in her own once more, and I knew that some unspoken word passed between their minds for the way her eyes glittered impishly and his mask dipped just barely in a frown.

    Yet, whatever words they shared were unknown to us when Celeborn turned to introduce the rest of those gathered. I blinked, and tried to pay attention as he spoke, but my mind was mired in a haze. Grappling with my distractions was paramount to facing a foe on the battlefield as I blinked, forcing my eyes to focus. Glorfindel I already knew, and at his side now stood Erestor, my father introduced - an unsmiling, dark-haired Noldo, standing with a formal rigidness to his posture. The two were close, I assumed from the way Erestor glared at Glorfindel when his smile turned too wide as he glanced between Elrond and me – for which I fought the urge to blush and turn my face away, once again wondering just how obvious I had been.

    Lindir was introduced next, another Noldorin elf with soft features and a gentle presence; an organizer of peoples and supplies in war, and a minstrel in times of peace. I turned when Celeborn introduced a Noldor architect named Echadis, and Harnor her Falathren husband. The names continued, and yet, anyone introduced after that seemed to fade from me, and my father's voice turned to a low thrum of noise in my ears.

    I can tell you little of what Thingol said in greeting, but I can tell you much of this, I remember my mother saying only hours earlier. And now . . .

    I kept on glancing to the side, unable to keep my eyes away. I tried to nod politely and remember the names of the new faces as Celeborn introduced them to me, but I felt as if I were bound as the tides were to the moon – constantly drawing me to look, to stare, to memorize every detail and learn everything I could. While I was aware of him to a near painful extent, Elrond did not again turn to glance at me - even when I could feel his senses tug at me, the same as my own must have tugged at his. Instead, he kept a steady eye on my father as he spoke, and Celeborn stared in turn.

    Curious, I found the cure to my distraction as I watched their interaction. When we first arrived, Elrond stood right beside my father, and there had been ease and companionship between them. There would have to be - for they had fought together, they had built together, they had won and lost much on the battlefield together. Between them was the respect of soldiers, as well as the love of kindred – for my parents had raised Elwing, Elrond's mother, from a very young age after the destruction of Doriath, and Celeborn had ever spoken of Elrond with fondness and respect in his voice.

    Now, there was a queer sort of guardedness about them both. I caught my mother's eye, and saw where Galadriel also wore a too-serene expression. Her eyes were polite and interested, but I could feel her presence more so than I normally could – as I ever did when she used her powers - and I knew that she and my father spoke rapidly between themselves, their bond allowing them to share thoughts and feelings more quickly and thoroughly than any mere spoken word.

    At long last, Celeborn sighed, and he glanced at Galadriel with a bemused sort of resignation in his eyes. His expression was still carefully neutral when he turned away from her, but there was a new softness about his gaze.

    “I fear that that I will be but of little use to the council any more this day, and I would ask leave to speak more of these things tomorrow,” Celeborn said to all of those gathered – not one of which had expected to carry on after our arrival, even before he spoke. He then turned to me, and said, “Your mother too is weary from her journey, and wishes to rest.” In reply to his words, I could feel where Galadriel reached out to push at my father through their bond, her mouth set crossly. Celeborn's eyes only glittered – for this was his own subtle return for his loosing whatever debate they had waged, I guessed.

    “I wished to show Imladris to you myself, and yet . . .” he glanced to Elrond, and seemed pleased to see that the younger elf stood up straighter underneath his gaze. While his face flushed underneath my father's stare, he did not look away. “Perhaps you would be so good as to be a guide for my daughter?" Celeborn asked.

    Elrond waited only a moment before answering, “It would be my honor.” His voice was carefully composed, and yet, I watched where he stole a glance at me before returning to hold my father's eyes.

    “Most excellent,” Celeborn answered, the corner of his mouth tugging upwards. “I believe that I could leave her in no finer hands.” Even still, his look turned pointed.

    “I shall turn my every effort to her comfort," Elrond gave his word, inclined his head to my father before turning to Galadriel. “I hope that you find your rest, my lady. The valley is even brighter since your arrival – something which I did not at first think possible.”

    “Indeed, there is a beauty to this place,” Galadriel agreed, her eyes lingering over us all in turn. “It is one I look forward to enjoying as well.”

    With that, she threaded her arm through my father's, and turned him away. She still did nothing more than touch his arm, and yet, I could feel a completion to her spirit that I had not felt in centuries. Knowing how much these last few years had taxed her, I would have found a way to give them some time to themselves, even had I not met Elrond.

    I watched them leave, and just barely, I heard a ghost of conversation against my mind – a glimpse that my mother allowed me to see, just for a moment.

    She was only just returned to me, I could hear my father's thoughts, his mind's voice low and plaintive. Now you would ask that I relinquish her once more? It is too soon for my liking . . . and she is so young – too young, perhaps.

    She is not much younger than we were when first we met, Galadriel returned. And you had no such qualms about my age then.

    You were nearly twice her age, Celeborn returned dryly. And it is not the same. We had seen different things, and the land was not as it is now. In those days . . . what we endured, what we survived . . .

    Is that anything less than Sauron's shadow falling upon this land? Galadriel returned. In some ways, the Darkening . . . the First Kinslaying . . . the Helcaraxë . . . these misfortunes were as much though fault of our own pride and vanity as it was through Morgoth's vile machinations. No, the two cannot be compared.

    And, besides, Galadriel returned, her voice taking on a note of mischievousness it only ever did when she spoke into the minds of her family. I remember you being grateful that my father was an ocean away when we started our courtship . . .

    Four brothers, Celeborn reminded her tersely. You had four of them, and they seemed to be everywhere, all at once. It was not so easy a task. I could feel where a memory – or two – were being blocked from me, but I did not attempt to pry.

    And now, you will try to do the same? Galadriel returned, her mind's voice wry.

    To the contrary,
    Celeborn sent with a flash of humor, I simply find myself understanding Thingol's decision to lock Lúthien away in that tower. It is a true pity that there are no longer any Silmarils I can send the boy to fetch . . .

    By my side, Elrond gave a snort of humor, and I turned to see that his eyes were bright – Galadriel must have shared with more than just me, I understood.

    A pity indeed, Galadriel's voice glittered, and a moment later, my parents presence faded from my mind. I smiled for the ghost of warmth they left behind, feeling the years past healed all the more so for the familiarity of the exchange.

    “Would you like to see the valley now?” Elrond asked, cutting into my thoughts. When he offered, I threaded my arm through his, glad for the excuse for nearness. His skin was warm, the muscles of his arm hard underneath the soft material of his sleeve, and I felt my heart do a sweeping motion in my chest.

    “Yes,” I answered, “I would like nothing better.”

    We set out, and I let the warmth of the day embrace me.

    End Notes:

    The UT only says that Elrond first saw Celebrían when she arrived in Imladris with Galadriel, and loved her from that moment, though he long said nothing of it. A whole 1,850 years later they would be married, after Sauron's 'defeat' and the dawn of the Third Age. So, I assume that the feeling was mutual - it would have to be, for her to wait such a long time, that's for sure. :p

    But, more about that later. ;)

    ~MJ @};-
    RX_Sith likes this.
  19. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 7

    Aug 31, 2004
    Mega ginormous gorgeously-inspired SQUEE! =D= Yes, you have turned me into a squishy pile of gooey happiness. There is something indeed to be said for love in an instant ;) [:D]
  20. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Force Ghost star 6

    Aug 21, 2006
    love at first sight for both
    but an even longer time than Luke and Mara before they marry;)
    Nyota's Heart likes this.
  21. RX_Sith

    RX_Sith C&G Game Host star 5 VIP - Game Host

    Mar 13, 2006
    True love for Celebrian and Elrond that they waited so long to get married, but in that time I am sure that they loved each other just as much as when they married.
    Nyota's Heart likes this.
  22. Cael-Fenton

    Cael-Fenton Jedi Master star 3

    Jun 22, 2006

    [face_laugh] I know the feeling. Poor Celebrían. Good thing Galadriel kept it in this time.

    The reunion(s) with Celeborn were just perfect. Heart-tugging without being too mushy or saccharine.

    I think love at first sight is really unfashionable these days, as a literary trope. I admire your courage in taking it on, with such an iconic couple no less! You pulled it off really well too! It seems to me like it would be very difficult to do it convincingly. But I almost felt like I was in her head there.

    The reactions from the older elves were just darling. :D
    Nyota's Heart likes this.
  23. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The Fanfic Manager With The Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Jun 29, 2004
    And here we are! Everything was rather hectic these last few weeks - from a death in the family, to work, to sickness, and even sneaking out of town for a few days to regain some equilibrium. So, here we go again . . . :)

    Nyota's Heart: You know what? There really is! In the end I had a lot of fun writing it, and I am glad that Tolkien was one big mush ball. [face_love] I am glad that you enjoyed it! [:D]

    earlybird-obi-wan: Your comment brought such a delighted chuckle from me. But, you know, if Luke and Mara had immortal lifespans, who knows how long profic would have made us suffer? :eek: [face_worry] Perhaps its something better not to think on . . . :p

    RX_Sith: I am sure as well. [face_love] Thanks for reading! :)

    Cael-Fenton: I am glad that this skirted that fine line so neatly for you! In the end, the fact that they are elves made this a bit easier - and interesting - to play with. In many ways, there is a fairytale element to a lot of Tolkien's stories, so love at first sight does settle itself nicely into that world - it is just my rusty pen that had to be sharpened. Writing the older elves was a bit of a treat for me, which always helps. :p

    As always, I thank you all for reading, and I hope that you enjoy this next bit! [:D]

    Entry XXVII

    As we navigated the busy ways of Imladris, the settlement bustled with activity around us.

    Every twist and turn seemed to have a story behind it, and Elrond was content to tell me all he could as we walked. For the most part, his anecdotes pertained to their building in the valley – telling me where a series of cave-ins had interrupted their earliest scouting of the crags, and detailing a mishap with a train of oxen carts and the one narrow bridge they had crossing over the high falls at that time. We spoke of the process of rebuilding, of starting life anew, rather than the events of the war itself. Whenever the subject was but touched, his eyes would darken with memory, and such a pall was not one I wished to pull over the bright, easy warmth of the day around us.

    Tactfully avoiding such triggering words had become somewhat of a habit for me, for his was the same shadow as Haldir and Amroth's in the days following the war with Sauron – and they had only seen a fraction of the fighting, at that. Most curiously, where I had been content to support my friends in silence, patiently providing them with a listening ear when they were ready to speak, I was now overwhelmed by the fierce yearning I had to more actively ease the burden I saw before me. I wanted to reach out and his pains for myself, erasing them completely if I could . . . really, such a compulsion was staggering in its strength for my having known him for no more than an hour's time. I felt as if I had known him for centuries; as if a part of me had ever been just waiting for the right moment to open up and gush forward like water from a dam.

    However, the years between us were obvious when I had to fight to keep the light of my fëa as a dull glow beneath my skin, and he did not. The only sign I had as to his similarly being affected was the way the muscles in his arm jumped underneath my touch as we walked. Even the smallest of signs was enough to make my heart skip in a silly way, and I had to focus so as to walk and carry on a conversation at the same time without making a fool of myself.

    We were not the only one enjoying the beauty of the day. There seemed to be fond smiles every which way we turned. Many, both Men and Elves, dipped low in bows as Elrond passed. He quickly waved them up from their respects, and even embraced a few before turning to introduce me in smiling tones. For the most part, there was joy and good cheer to be found every which way I looked, and I let that joy set in my own heart, filling me with its warmth.

    There was already such a niche being created and filled here, I thought as I watched Elrond interact with the valley's inhabitants. Imladris had become a sanctuary for all in so short a time, and its numbers only grew as those tossed astray by the war found their feet and their fellows again. One of the most curious things to me - perhaps even more so than the peoples of every shape and sort - was the gaggle of children running about underfoot, their teeming numbers an oddity when compared to any elven community I had ever known.

    I looked in bemusement as the young ones flocked like a school of fish, darting here and there before rushing off again, their ribbons and warm cloaks streaming out behind them in gay flashes of color and laughter. Nearly all of the young ones were mortal children, and I could feel them burn against my senses like flames upon a torch. The souls of Mankind were ever as sparks, but the children shone even brighter than their elders, and great was the light they gave off.

    “We had a somewhat unexpected rise in births during our years of siege,” Elrond explained to me, his eyes dancing as he said so. “There were many a reunited couple grateful for finding each other once more, and the first babe we delivered was a boy, almost three years ago now. His name is Mainor, and he brought as much joy to the valley as he did to his parents.” He gestured to a little auburn haired child, toddling behind an older girl-child with the same hair – his sister, I presumed.

    The statement at first bemused me, for their short years meant that the Secondborn had little control over when and where they begot their children. Even so, the new life they gave to the valley was a gift, especially after the long and bloody days of battling throughout Eregion and Eriador.

    With that thought, I tried to study Elrond's features without being rude in my staring. Though he had chosen to favor his elven heritage, there was still a great strain of Men running through his veins, and I was then curious for such a dichotomy of being. What had long been a whispered tale before the evening fire was now flesh and blood before me, and instead of the awe I always knew in the vaguest sense for the story of Lúthien, I now felt the need to know the more tangible intricacies her choice left in its wake.

    I could imagine raising a child here, the thought hit me next, as quick and bright as storm-light. I flushed, pushing that thought away until later – much later, and preferably when I was not walking arm in arm with the subject of my fascination. I tilted my chin up, hoping that the cool bite to the air would be enough to explain the sudden flush to my cheeks.

    “It appears that you have built quite the haven here,” I commented so as to distract my own thoughts, focusing on the children as they ran off again.

    “Imladris has become a bit of a homely house for all who have need of it, it is true,” Elrond agreed with me. His eyes were very warm, and very bright, I saw. I glanced at him, and then looked away again.

    After a time, our path circled to the back of the main compound, where broad ways had already been cleared and plotted out for gardens. The only fountains running were the ones that made use of the natural stone and falling water of the valley, but their song was a joyous one as we walked the cobbled paths. Most of the beds were thin in foliage, with only the hardiest perennials budding as their neighbors waited for the warmer days to come in order to fully bloom. It was a young garden, having only been started the year prior, I would guess, but it would be beautiful when it was allowed to grow in to itself.

    Elrond pointed out many of the plants that were set to grow, while I recognized a few for myself and was able to reply in kind. We chatted amiably as we came around a bend in the path, where I immediately inhaled a waft of rosemary – a stubborn plant that grew even in the cold days before the true start of spring. I looked, and sure enough, this part of the garden was all herbs waiting to bloom.

    There were strong walls of natural stone bordering the east and the northern edges, protecting the more delicate plants from the strong winds of spring. Massive bushes of rosemary outlined the perimeter – which I could smell all the more so as we approached, along with the various species of mint that stubbornly pierced through the early-season soil. Elrond gestured, telling me where chamomile and eucalyptus and lavender were later set to grow. While many of the specimens in the garden were grown for their medicinal properties, the cook's wife had her own corner – one that she insisted was off-limits to the healers at all costs. If Bethril happened to be relieved of her crop of basil more often than not, Elrond did not know who the culprit was – this he told me with a twinkling in his eyes.

    As we spoke, I noticed a small group of older mortal women in the furthest corner of the herb-plot, all garbed in sensible homespun and sturdy boots. Some buried garlic cloves next to the newly seeding plants, while others worked the black, damp earth with spades, aiding the fledgling crops as they recovered from the harsh cold of the winter. The women all looked up with bright eyes as we passed . . . bright, knowing eyes, I could not help but think with a whisper of foreboding. I heard one woman whisper, for which her partner laughed in delight; while another woman even winked at Elrond. It took me a moment to realize that she was not making such a gesture at Elrond . . . but rather for him. My theory was proven to be correct when they next turned their evaluating gazes to me, they each being purposefully obvious with their intentions as they openly weighed my worthiness for their lord. Rather than being offended at the rather frank manner of the women, bemusement filled me for the idea – for it did not seem to matter that Elrond technically held nearly two millennia of years over them, they were still as determined to see him happily settled down as they would be for their own children and grandchildren.

    “My lord!” one of the women called, wiping her hands on her apron as we came down the path. Her dark grey hair was fetchingly streaked with white, and the laughing wrinkles creasing her face had yet to detract from her beauty. She was short in stature, even by mortal standards, and comfortably plump and round in shape. There was something instantly disarming about her, and even though my years were seven times her own, I felt the instinctive respect for an elder fill me in deference to her. The rest of the matrons gathered behind her, clearly allowing her to speak as their collective voice.

    “For shame it is that ye meant to pass so quickly by!” she came through a carefully cultivated row to tut at Elrond. “And without introducing this enchanting creature on your arm? Great is the offense you'd pay us, lad.”

    “Greetings, Goodwife Haedrin,” Elrond bowed low in greeting to the woman, taking the exaggerated ire of her accusations in stride. “I can assure you that doing so was not my intention.”

    “I am sure it was not,” she responded primly, fondness in her eyes. “Ye are too good to this old woman to do so.”

    Elrond turned to me, and said, “May I present to you Baralin, Haedrin's widow – one of the deepest wells of knowledge on the subject of herb-lore you will find outside of Yavanna's court. Goodwife Haedrin, may I introduce you to the Lady Celebrían Celeborniel, lately of Hollin.”

    Baralin looked at me in a new light, and touched her thin thoughtfully. “The Silver Lord's daughter?” she asked, seeking confirmation. “And as bonny as a summer's day she is,” she declared happily. “Yes, yes, you will do quite well,” it was decided.

    “It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Goodwife Haedrin,” I dipped low in a courtesy, as I would to a matron of my own people, and she flushed in reply.

    “Ye need not stand on such formality, lass,” Baralin smiled at me. She gestured at Elrond once more. “This one has delivered many of our husbands and sons alive through the healing rooms where they may not have come home from the battlefield before. Whatever finally puts a smile on his somber face brings us the greatest of joys as well.”

    “You are too kind with your words,” Elrond disagreed with her assessment. “Indeed, you downplay your own role in tending to the wounded so as to better sound my own.”

    “And who has the sweet words now?” Baralin returned, clucking her tongue. “It is my prerogative to praise where I see fit, and it would be better for you to simply bear up under it.”

    I glanced between the two, understanding then that she must have been one of the herbalist who frequented the healing tents during the war. The resulting bond between them made me smile to see, and I watched them with a pleased expression, the woman instantly endearing herself to me.

    “How fares your cultivating this day?” Elrond asked politely, rather than addressing her words outright. Baralin gracefully allowed him his diversion, stepping back into the garden to more closely show us her work.

    Behind us, Glorfindel – who had been discreetly following us all the while - stepped forward, and Baralin's circle of women gladly allowed themselves to be distracted from the gossip we provided when he flashed them a charming smile. He bowed low, and proceeded to comment on how the glory of the oncoming spring made their loveliness bloom to match. At his side, Erestor rolled his eyes for his friend's flirting, and yet, the golden lord continued – completely unrepentant, and perhaps all the more amused for his companion's ire.

    I too tucked away a smile as I turned back to what the herb-mistress was saying. Some time went by with Elrond and Baralin debating and theorizing over the healing properties of the plants we passed. While I only knew the basics of such healing herbs, most of which was learned under duress during the war, I was able to follow the basics of their speech. When the theories passed my own knowledge, Elrond slowed to explain their words to me, and there was an approving look in the mortal woman's eyes for my willingness to learn.

    “A bright one she is, too,” Baralin chuckled under her breath, using her apron to wipe the rich black soil from her hands. She was turning an old layer in the garden – where it looked as if the burned ruin of some crop had been left to cover the soil at the end of the last season. “I'll have foxglove growing here,” she explained to me. “Not to be confused with comfrey when it comes in, so mind ye if you ever go picking it.”

    “Is this not a poisonous plant?” I asked. Where foxglove grew wild in Lórinand, the March-wardens called it dead-man's bells to deter any from ingesting it. It was a beautiful plant, though, with its sweet smell, and its brightly coloured stalks of bell-shaped flowers.

    “Aye, it can be deadly,” Baralin answered. “Many healers I know will not bother with it for the negative affects it can inflict. But, if harvested correctly and used in the proper way, it can be of great aid when treating ailments of the heart. It's a tricky business, though, and not one to trifle with lightly.”

    She looked up at Elrond, her pride all but leaping from her eyes. “However, this one has a knack for treading such fine lines. He sings to the wee leaves, if you can believe such a thing. I can tell ye much about the plants themselves, and there may be a hedge-witch or two amongst my folk who can use their incantations to aid growing things – but this is unlike anything I have ever seen.”

    “He is a true healer,” I whispered, turning an appraising glance towards Elrond before turning my eyes down to the soil once more.

    Even my mother spoke with great respect for the few true healers amongst our kind. Where Galadriel had to go through great efforts to learn the few songs of healing she knew, much as she learned many of her talents underneath Melian's watchful eye, there were those of our kind who could simply hear the songs fëar sang, and alter that song at wish. Some could even go so far as to give of their own souls to aid a faltering patient, for which I knew he had often done. Elrond was a particularly gifted true healer, bearing Estë's own touch - or so Galadriel's stories had said. I fought the urge I had to bite my lip, wavering between wishing that I had asked my mother more when she first spoke of her former apprentice, and wanting to open my mouth and ask everything I could think to know of him now.

    “If that is what you might call it, I would agree,” Baralin nodded approvingly. “A true healer, indeed.”

    Next to Baralin, Elrond patiently endured being spoken of as if he were no longer present. “I would merely say that I play my part, as we all do,” he amended gently. His pale skin had a way of letting through all sorts of shades of pink, I realized with no small amount of fondness and mirth.

    Baralin chuckled, and looked at me in a pointed way. “There are many a lad who can wave a sword around all willy-nilly, you see,” she leaned in close, as if to confide a secret. “But it is a special sort who can heal the hurts caused by the cruelties of the world, mark me when I say this.”

    “And it is amazing, what fine hearing I possess when standing but a pace away,” Elrond remarked dryly.

    Baralin reached out to swat at the Elf-lord's hand, her eyes glittering all the while. “I was not meaning to put you in a twist,” she half apologized without any true contrition. “Many a young couple simply need a word or two to break through the ice. I've lost count of the many I have aided in my time, and someday you shall thank me – someday soon, may I ask the Valar, for my years are not as great as yours, I'd have ye remember.”

    Right on cue, Elrond's flush deepened. Yet, I was far from minding the woman's bold tongue. Instead, her speech caused a giddy sort of feeling to dance in my chest, and I too waved Elrond's protestations away.

    “I agree with her,” I finally said, finding myself blushing to match. My voice started out soft, but my words gained strength with every syllable I uttered. “Many can learn to hold a sword, but to heal those hurts inflicted . . . it is a special gift, indeed.”

    Really, no more needed to be said than that.

    Baralin smiled broadly, her task accomplished. She made no more insinuations as we toured the remainder of her garden, but Elrond's gaze was often upon me, rather than on the growing things, and I made no move to look away from him. There was a sizzling sort of static dancing on the air between us, one that caused my breath to turn tight and my heart to skip in a most pleasant way – so much so that I had to call myself back to attention when Baralin went on to next explain the properties of comfrey – the foxglove lookalike. I tried my best to pay attention, but knew my mind to be quite taken elsewhere.

    We finally took our leave of the herb-mistress some time later, and I felt a true delight fill me for making her acquaintance.

    “Will the Edain stay in Imladris, or do they wish to return to their own lands?” I asked as we left the herb garden. Behind us, there was a flurry of sighs as Glorfindel turned away from his captive audience. I glanced back, and did not miss the way Erestor surreptitiously elbowed the other – the gesture nearly hidden by the long folds of his robes.

    “We have groups who have decided to settle to the south upon the Hollin Ridge, while others shall set out just to the north in the forests of Rhudaur. There is already a great number of Men away building in the forests; they have been gone the whole year past, and many of the women and children are readying to join them after Yestarë passes.”

    I nodded my understanding. The festival for Yestarë – celebrating the spring equinox and welcoming our new year - was already less than a sennight away. Much of the hustle and bustle in the valley was preparation for that celebration, as much as it was a good deal of the Men preparing to set out after, I now understood. The winter was fast loosing its hold on the land, and already it felt as spring around us. This year, with more than the passing of the seasons to celebrate, the festivities would be raucous indeed.

    Elrond was quiet for a moment, his head tilted in thought. “There is a small group of us who shall accompany the Men into Rhudaur, myself included. You would be welcome to join us, if that is your wish.”

    I felt a pleased feeling fill me for the invitation, and I inclined my head in reply. “Doing so would be my great joy,” I answered. I tried not to sound too eager, but I do not think Elrond would have noticed one way or the other – not with the way he flushed, pleased with my reply. At the sight, I felt a bright sort of feeling fill me, one that did not fade as we continued on.

    We walked and conversed in pleasant companionship after that, only parting when the evening came upon us. Rather than taking my evening meal with the others, I dinned privately with my parents, both my mother and I eager for the time to catch up with my father. There I listened to Celeborn's tales and gave my own in return, filling in our time apart until it was as if it had never passed. The light in Galadriel's eyes was soft for her joy, and I knew my own happiness for being able to reach out and touch my father whenever I wished, rather than succoring myself solely on the distant touch of his spirit. They did not much comment on my first day in Imladris, speaking instead of our time apart, though I did not miss the contemplative way Galadriel's eyes followed me when I went to retire – thus giving my parents the rest of the night to themselves. Even so, I was nearly certain that it would be a conversation for the morrow.

    The guestrooms in Imladris were great, open spaces, letting in both the starlight and the cool night air. I fell asleep listening to a sweet voice sing from a distant balcony, welcoming the stars to the night sky in a melody that was even older than I. I blinked the moon back from my eyes, and fell asleep content with the day.

    I awakened in much the same way. The sun's first light had just touched the night sky with its heralding glow, and I rose as if summoned, already ready to rise with the day. While my parents normally rose earlier than me, they were both still abed, and I let them be. Being as quiet as I could, I dressed in a tunic and leggings so as to better explore a trail Glorfindel had pointed out, one leading up into the cliffs, where the summit of the highest waterfalls spilled down from the mountains. Where I would normally tie my hair back with a simple braid and leave the rest to flow where it would, I found myself lingering before the looking glass, dissatisfied with my appearance. Shaking my head, I raked my fingers through the simple braid I had tied, and then spent more time arranging my hair in a more complex plait. My cheeks flushed as I told myself that I would have done so even if I did not intend to encounter him today.

    . . . truly.

    I only took a moment to glare at myself in the mirror before turning away. Beyond our suite, there were few others stirring that early in the day, and I nodded in greeting to those I passed as I made my beyond the settlement. I found where Glorfindel had pointed yesterday, and followed the winding path as it traveled up steeply, running parallel with one of the massive cascades pouring down into the valley below. The spray of the falling water was sweet on my skin, and my lungs felt refreshed as they filled with the cold, clean air of the mountains. By the time I reached the rise, the sun was just starting to make its appearance over the crags circling the valley. The sky above was touched in shades of pink and pale purple, the warmest of oranges bathing the horizon to show where the great flame of Anor rose beyond the low line of clouds building in the sky. While the clouds distorted my view, they did play interesting shapes with the colours of the dawn, and I knew – I hoped, rather – that I would have many such sunrises to view from this spot.

    I sat back on one of the great formations of stone, feeling as the earth trembled underneath me for being so close to the waterfall. The river was rushing and touched with white so close to the plummet, and the sunlight caught on the shifting shapes of the water, drawing my eye with beauty everywhere I looked.

    Were it warmer, I would have known the temptation to take off my boots and dip my feet in the water. But there was still a bite of winter in the air, and I instead stood, ready to get my blood flowing again. I turned to where one of the smaller tributaries to the river flowed from a more serene waterfall some ways back, pooling in a gentle alcove of deep blue water. The colors from the sunrise reflected over the still current like a mirror, and the thin cascade feeding the pool was a dancing sound when compared to the roar of the water beyond.

    This was a soothing spot, I could not help but think, instantly taken. I was then looking for a way to climb up to the crest of the smaller waterfall when I heard: “I take it Glorfindel told you about this path?” from above me.

    I was still not used to the warmth of his voice, I thought, suddenly glad that I had taken an extra moment to fiddle with my hair. Self-consciously, I reached up to make sure that everything was in place as I answered, “Indeed he did.” I looked up, smiling to see Elrond sitting where I was meant to go. “I am sorry if I interrupted your solitude, doing so was not my intention.”

    “The intrusion is welcome, I can assure you,” Elrond answered, reaching down to help my up the stone face. Perhaps I could have managed on my own, but it felt good to have my hand in his, letting his strength pull me up effortlessly.

    “Normally, I have little time throughout the day to spend as such,” Elrond explained as I settled myself down on the stone, careful to sit neither too close for propriety's sake, or too far away for my own sake. “As I do not much sleep, this is often my morning's routine. Which,” his voice took on a wry note, “is something Glorfindel knows full well. Normally, he is lurking somewhere nearby . . . yet, I do not sense his presence now.”

    I could not help but smile at that. “He seems to be a good friend,” I commented. “If rather transparent in his intentions,” I could not help but acknowledge in bemusement. Elrond's face was more expressive than most elves I knew – a result of his mortal blood? - and I watched as the tips of his ears flushed pink in a now familiar expression.

    “His was a most unlooked for presence in my life, one that I now could not cast aside, even if I wished to,” Elrond recovered himself. “Now, truth be told, I do quite know what I would do without him.”

    This I could only imagine. Thoughtfully, I stared at the play of sunlight over the crest of the waterfall, thinking about the stories I knew in a new light. To have an ancient warrior of your house return from Námo's Halls for the sole purpose of fulfilling his vows of fealty to your great-grandfather, one whose blood you identified with only in the most abstract of ways . . . Such strange happenings could only have been surreal at the start, no matter that they were a blessing now. With my mind upon that path, I curiously considered many things - for there were tales told aplenty about Elrond and the strange course of his life so far. Yet, what was heard second and third hand was one thing - there was an element of disassociation with such tales, and I now sat beside him and found myself eager to know all that I could. It was a yearning sort of need within me, and I wanted . . .

    As subtly as I could, I reached out, feeling for the same awareness of his spirit I had known the day before. As close as the stone beneath my hands, or the mist of the falls to my skin, his mind seemed to linger just a heartbeat away from my own, seemingly waiting for me to reach out and seek it. The great blue cast of his spirit felt content against my mind, but that serenity flowed over a sea of deep currents. The deepest eddies were strong and violent, even though he kept them from rippling upon the surface from centuries of long practice. He mentioned that he did not often sleep, and I could understand why now – with such depths ready to flow up unrestrained through his unwaking mind. I could catch only the briefest of glimpses – flashes of steel and the coppery scent of blood as he sought to repair the failing life underneath his hands, and I could not tell if that was from this war or his much older, more tender memories of the War of Wrath. Strangely enough, I could see even older memories of war than that – which left me curious, for he was not even a century of years during the war that spelled Morgoth's defeat. These were the tender wounds of a child, I next understood with a queasy sort of horror, rather than the burdens of a soldier and a leader of armies . . . and old was their scar as a result.

    Gathering myself, I looked beyond his memories of war - the fastest moving currents in his mind - to the strands about his spirit that were as tides, seeing first a smiling countenance just like his own, a mortal man's beard soft upon his face, with a crown of Men heavy upon his brow . . . I then could see such a light, such a radiance, upon the wings of a great white bird before it settled as a star in the night sky . . . I next glimpsed a man crossed with faded white scars and crowned by a flaming mass of curling red hair. His was a stern figure, bowed by Oath and the heaviness of time; the light of the Trees in his eyes shadowed by both horrors suffered and pains inflicted. Through it all, a raven haired minstrel plucked a song on his harp, and his was one of the sweetest melodies I had ever heard, even when played in mourning. I saw red hands, ruined hands, and when the man could no longer strum his harp, he instead sang to the sea in remorse, in longing . . . and yet, no matter how Elrond searched, he could never find the source of that song.

    I blinked, and just that quickly, his memories rushed from my mind's eye as if blown by a sea-wind. I inhaled, surprised by the lance of pain that sank between my rib-bones, as if seeking out my heart. It was hard to breathe undreneath the weight of what I saw, and I wanted to reach over and take his hand in my own in a belated sort of comfort. Instead, I fiddled with the hem of my tunic, and watched as the sun rose to settle behind the clouds.

    “I am sorry,” Elrond at long last said, having to take a moment to gather himself. His voice was dry, as if he had to coax his throat to work. “I did not intend to burden you with that,” he sounded perplexed, and I thought again of the still sea of blue I first sensed. No, I thought again, he did not much let go of his control.

    “I think,” I said slowly, “that it is I who should be apologizing. I somehow looked where I ought not,” I did not quite know how to explain just how open his spirit was to mine. It should have not been so easy to sink through the layers of his mind to uncover such old memories. Such a glimpse would have been a struggle to glean between friends, and even my parents' minds were not as open to me – and I knew better to delve so deeply without an express invitation. And yet, just touching the surface of his spirit in a reflexive motion – a thoughtless gesture I had done hundreds of times before with those close to me – should not have sunken in so deeply. Even now, I had to keep the light of my own fëa down, as if it was trying to reach out and drink his in. Something within me whispered that I could sooth the restless current I saw, that I could fill it in with one of my own – something whispered that I had even been created to do so, as the One ever sent us into this world in pairs for souls to find.

    After a long moment, I breathed in deep, and found my voice. “My apologies, I cannot explain what I did.”

    His brow furrowed, and I understood then that this was as new to him as it was to me. But he did not censure me, nor did he seem particularly troubled that I had looked so deeply into his mind. “I do not regret your doing so,” Elrond carefully said after a moment, no doubt feeling where I worried for crossing a line I ought not have. “It . . . felt right.”

    He did not look at me, but I could feel the warm cast of his spirit, even when I was determined to let myself feel no more than that. Careful to keep my thoughts as my own, and his thoughts as his, I did reach out to take his hand in my own this time. His skin was warm, the tips of his long fingers callused, and I simply let my hand rest there as I moved to sit the slightest bit closer to him. There was something comforting in the simplicity of the contact, in the warmth of the new day, and there we sat until the sun finished its ascent into the sky.

    ~MJ @};-
    RX_Sith and Nyota's Heart like this.
  24. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 7

    Aug 31, 2004
    Oh - Imladris is gorgeous and a wonderful sanctuary. Baralin is a delight, @};- !! Sweet and lovable all at once, besides all too perceptive. ;)

    Glorfindel - is "golden" indeed. =P~ And he well knows what he is about.


    But the Celebrian/Elrond sparks and affinity just made me warm and toasty happy inside. [face_dancing] [face_dancing] Their rapport was fast-forming, natural, and best put, right... [face_thinking]

    I love the depth you elucidate overtly because of his blended heritage, all the stuff he's been through. @};- =D=


    Speaking of, my sincerest sympathies for all the yuck you've been through recently. [:D] That makes this update even more gratefully happily appreciated.

  25. RX_Sith

    RX_Sith C&G Game Host star 5 VIP - Game Host

    Mar 13, 2006
    A great and loving connection to each other are Elrond and Celebrian as they further their bond towards each other.